Some thoughts on “Strapgate”

So, here’s the thing. After being told that my bras fit dreadfully by Ewa Michalak (it’s on their facebook page, I wasn’t able to figure out how to link directly to the discussion!), I’ve been seriously freaking out about it. Do my bras actually fit horribly because the wires are in my armpits? Well, here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about it.

1. If my ribcage measures 28″, and the width of the two cups combined is ~14″ (as in my CH Karmelki), the of course the wires are going to wrap around my ribcage.

2. I don’t know if I’m just like wearing bras wrong or something, because apparently some people can wear looser bands, but a 30 literally rides up my back and needs to be adjusted all day. I know some bands sit more slanted than others, but if a band CONSTANTLY moves and needs adjustment… I cannot wear that band.

3. Cups are not graded down with band size. You cannot take the cups from a 36GG and stick them on a 28JJ and then assume that the wires will not wrap around the 28″ girl’s ribcage. That’s just not logical.

4. I’m further cemented in believing that I’m not wearing the wrong size by the fact that other bras in this size do not have this wide-wire problem. My Comexim bra is a 65L, equivalent to 30HH. In it, I would need a 60N, or 28JJ. The band, however, stretches the same amount as my PL Mak, and less than the CH Karmelki. The wires on this are not too wide. Polish girls on Balkonetka (who Ewa says are wearing her bras correctly) are also wearing the same size in Ewa Michalak and Comexim. The difference in fit between my Comexim Carmen and my Ewa Michalak bras is a matter of style of the bra, not a matter of me wearing the wrong size.


Me in Comexim Carmen


Me in CH Karmelki

5. I’m literally wearing one band size smaller than the calculator suggested me, in a model that has a stretchy band. They said that my cups had to be smaller. Even before alterations I spilled over the top of the bra even with the straps loosened. It’s just another bra that is too shallow and too wide for my breast shape, but in my size you work with what is available to you (since not much is available at all).

I’ve been reading a Polish forum for the last couple of days because I noticed my blog was getting hits from it, and in it they basically talk about how +0 is crazy and how can we not notice that we’re wearing too tight bands and how can we breathe and a whole bunch of other stuff. Apparently, Poland went through a tight band/+0 “phase” and is now back to +2/+4. They agree with Ewa Michalak that our bands are too tight, and it really makes me wonder how they expect my bra to stay on when this 60 band already moves around all day? Also I wonder how they think we could be wearing bands that were uncomfortable for us. Maybe some women do, but I would sacrifice boob security for comfort any day! Also, if I were going to be wearing the wrong size, why the hell would I choose such a hard size to find?!

I feel like these women who are saying that we (or me specifically, in this instance) are wearing the wrong bra size are not taking something into consideration: I got to this size through trial and error. I didn’t follow some calculator, or anything, I just followed my instincts until I found what was comfortable.

I was in an uncomfortable 34DD, and got fitted to a 30FF. During this time I often would wear 32DDD’s because they were easier to find, but this band size rode up and caused my neck and shoulders to ache. As I lost a little weight and my breasts grew, I found that a 30 band was now allowing my shoulders and back to ache, so I went down to a 28 band, and sized up in the cups until I was no longer pillowing out of the top. Did this result in too wide wires in almost all bras? Yes. Would I rather have too wide wires and wire distortion than a too loose band or cups that I’m falling out of the top of? Yes. 

So if there are any +2/+4 followers out there who are wondering if I’ve tried wearing a looser band and smaller cups, the answer is yes, and it was painful, which is why I wear the size I wear now.

That’s all I’m going to say for now, just because it’s really late and I should go to sleep, but I have all this ranting in my mind that I needed to get out, and it’s been a while since I’d posted anything 🙂 More posts in the future inspired by “Strapgate” will be coming, including one where I try the size that theoretically should make things work for me – a 65H. 

26 thoughts on “Some thoughts on “Strapgate”

  1. Great post, I can’t see an argument against what you just said… sat here eagerly awaiting Ewa’s ‘strapgate’ rebuttal.

    Also am I seeing much more projection in the ewa than comexim?

  2. Hi there.
    I guess the bra fits alright. I like the Commexim better than the EM though. Sometimes it’s due to a non-compatibility-issue that you have to go up several cup sizes to have a better fit. The wider the wires are, the less support you get from the bra. This has been labeled ‘reversed letterphobia’ and while most women have a tendency to suffer from it after their fitting, it’s not always the problem. I really do not understand how every discussion leads to such a rigid dogmatism about being right. (shakes head)

    The whole plus2/4/whatever idea IMO lies within the measuring technique used. If you measure your ribcage as tight as possible, then probably a bandsize deriving from this measurement would be too tight. For example, I measure 82 cm tight and about 76 with empty lungs and a tape measure pulled as tight as possible, so this would be 33 inches vs. 30inches. In reality I’m between a 34 and a 32 band in Panache bras whereas 30 would be to tight. At Busenfreundinnen we used the smaller centimetre measurement as a indication for the continental band size, which would be a 75 (34) for starters with the advice to try 70/32 too, whereas ‘war on plus 4’ would take the 82cm (33 inches) as a starting point.

    So, don’t fuss to much about it. Maybe Ewa Michalak bras simply aren’t yours. 🙂

    • I agree the Comexim is MUCH better than the EM bra- my point in comparing them was just to show that although EM tried to say my bad fit in the Karmelki was due to wearing the wrong size, it’s really just due to bra incompatibility. I agree that it sucks that every discussion leads to rigid dogmatism. I genuinely kept an open mind to what EM were saying, and have someone lending me a 65H (the recommended calculator size) to try. At this point, in this size range, I’d JUMP at the chance to become something like a 30H that isn’t custom ordered and that almost all companies make! So trust me, I’ve definitely got my mind open to it 😉

      You could be right with the +2/+4 thing – I (and most of the English speaking bloggers as far as I know) measure just as tightly as we’d like our bra to fit us, and then add 0. For EM’s calculator, you’re supposed to measure as tightly as possible (for which I get 26″). So if I were going by my as-tight-as-possible measurement, then I also follow +2 and not +0!

      And you’re right, EM and I just aren’t as compatible as I am with Comexim, but when I pretty much have 2 companies making bras that I like in my size (I really really really really REALLY prefer padded bras), I have to make due- which is why I just moved the straps on my Karmelki, and will continue to do so on future EM orders!

    • That’s not “reverse letterphobia” as it has been explained to me. Reverse letterphobia is not going up in size to get a good fit, or sacrificing support for fit. (Also, I don’t know why you think that wider wires= less support. I don’t like wide wires myself, but plenty of wide-wires bras, like Elomi and many Panache models, are very supportive.) Reverse letterphobia is wearing a too-tight band so that you can have have a bigger letter size for some kind of ego gratification.

  3. Okay, I admit to being completely out of the loop on “strap gate” but here’s my $0.02….how tall are each of the wings??? While wing height may decrease with up size, that’s not all there is to it. How far apart are the straps? Strap placement contributes to armpit jab. Strap placement should grow closer with decreased cup and band size, but usually placement is a style issue.

    Despite being the right size, a bra may not fit an individual well – and that could be because the style is not a great fit, or the manufacturer is not a good fit for your body. I compare this to finding jeans that fit (we’ve all been there). Wire shape, cup depth, etc. all play parts in fit.

    It truly sucks when you only have a few manufacturers who make bras in your size – you are more or less stuck with their bras despite fit – and you must make them work. That can mean sister sizing in band/cup to make a bra work…which may be what you have to do to purchase a bra that comes close to working. Sucks, but it can be reality.

    Sure, there may be a bra out there that fits you better…but they have to make it in your size, first. So until that happens, here you are..making do. Yes, too shallow of cups and heavy breasts (and too tall of a gore, for me) can make you want a tighter band (been there). But I reiterate my point, above. Til you find a bra that fits, what are your choices???

    PS – personally, I’d find a good seamstress and chop the heck out of that Ewa cup/wire to get it out of my arm pit.

    Pps – stop worrying about what other people say. Do what works for you.

    • Oh, the wings are definitely higher in my EM bras! I didn’t have this issue very much when I had a 60J from them, but as soon as I got into 60JJ and 60K, the bras got VERY tall under my armpits! This happens to me with almost all bras though, as I’m a little short (5’3″) and have very high set breasts. When I first tried on the Comexim and it DIDN’T happen, it was like seeing the sun for the first time! Haha.

      I agree that style is also very important when it comes to bra fit, not just size, and that the CH is NOT the best style for me (due to the wide wires), it’s just that it’s the best I could find until I found Comexim. Also, the PL’s from EM work a LOT better for me. The wires are still wider than the Comexim bra, but not NEARLY as awful as the CH Karmelki was! Obviously in my size range you have to be prepared to compromise to find anything that will even sort of fit you – I would rather put up with too wide wires than a riding up band and overspill!

      Also, I did alter the CH Karmelki and it is way better now, though the alteration increased the quadboob I was beginning to get in it 😦 Still wear it all the time now though, whereas before it almost never left my closet.

      • I am high set (and close set), and once I learned I must have gore less than 3″ (which generally means a plunge), things went much better. I think plunge wings run lower (generally), too.

        I have a very limited bra selection because of being high set, short waisted, close set…and wide because my ribs are wide, but not much flesh on my ribs. Basically, I’m in Cleo/Panache.

        I can identify with the difficulty, unfortunately.

      • I’m close set too, and can pretty much only do plunges! Obviously the CH is a half cup, but it’s only an inch higher in the gore than my PL, not super high like some of the balconettes in the UK can be! Also I definitely work better in the plunge style from EM too, the wings are a little lower, and it doesn’t go into my armpits quite as much (though I probably will still alter it someday).

  4. I actually signed up for Balkonetka so that I could have a look at Polish fitting methods and see how they compared to our own. I feel as though perhaps there are physical differences between us which may account for our different preferences/fit issues. It seems to me as though a lot of Polish/other European women have a ‘V’ shaped ribcage which gets wider as they go up, and wider shoulders (even looking at the biggest size Ewa Michalak bras on the site the straps weren’t an issue). For me, even in a 60G PL Milady (I got it for my sister and I’d wear a 60L/65L in the PL styles to fit in), the straps were borderline wide set, because my shoulders are very narrow and slope. I also know that they tend to measure a lot more snugly than we do.

    What it really boils down to though is after being educated about what a good bra fit is I think what we wear has a great deal to do with priorities and compromise. I prioritise having a snug band, because otherwise the wires slide around on my torso and cut in, but I’d put up with a floating gore in an otherwise okay bra. Unless you have a bra made to fit you, you’re not going to get a spot on fit, so you have to do the best you can. I feel as though there’s a cultural difference when it comes to priorities for ‘good bra fit’.

    To say ‘The Polish community has had no complaints with the straps and that is who we primarily market our bras to’ would be okay, but I really feel like there is no right or wrong way of fitting a bra, and it’s about what’s most comfortable for the individual, which is why I’m not very happy with EM’s response. If people want to use +2 or +4 or -2 or whatever, to me that’s not a problem, but writing off the concerns of a large group of people by telling them that they are wearing their bras the wrong way is.

    Also, you look gorgeous in that Comexim bra! It seems to be a much better fit than the EM- there’s much less compromise there with getting a comfortable fit.

    • Bah! I’d written a lengthy reply and then accidentally pressed back and lost it -_-

      BUT basically what I’d said is I feel like this issue comes up most in very small bands and very large cup sizes. I tried looking on Balkonetka and could only find 1 woman who was wearing a 30J + an extender. Maybe I just don’t know how to use their search function? But yeah. I’d love to poll specifically very small ribcaged + very large breasted Polish women to see if they have the issues we have.

      I agree it’s totally about compromise! I compromise by taking too-wide-wires over quadboob! And there’s DEFINITELY a cultural difference when it comes to those priorities! Think about US bra culture, where extreme cleavage is a priority, for example!

      I was just annoyed by their response because first they were like “Oh, your band is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too tight” and I was like “I measure 26” tight and your calculator says to take a 65, this is a loose 60. And then they were like “Oh well your cups are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too big”. But even in THIS size I quadboob (will be buying a 60K next time I get a CH), and as I showed with my Comexim pictures, it’s just that the wires (well, the whole bra, really!) are too wide for me.

  5. hmm my panache does fit high in the armpits..not directly under like the ewa michalak. but it’s still pretty high..That being said it’s not my right fit..I’m a 28JJ but so far I have to stick with sizing up to a 30J (panache’s tango just doesn’t fit my shape >.>) so i can’t really say.

    My advice, is to wear what’s comfortable and supports…

    On another note apparently parfait will be expanding it’s size range io a K cup this AW 2013 season…and the charlotte bra will be in a 28 band ^_^

    • I am EXTREMELY excited for the Parfait expansion!!! And the Charlotte in Pink?! *swoon*! My bras always fit higher in the armpits than a lot of other women though because my breasts are high set and I’m a little short (5’3″).

      • I’m swooning right along with you. 🙂’s a good thing you aren’t under 5ft >.> the straps keep falling off TT_TT and the only adjustable bra i have is the andorra..because of my full on top breasts there is some slight spillage…but the stretch lace on andorra helps with that — the cups on the jasmine are slightly bigger though…

        what do you consider high-set breasts?

  6. I agree with you! It looks like the CK gives you the armpit rubbing. Just wondering if you have any solutions for that? I’m currently a 30J, and always have the chafing in the armpits! Thanks for your post, I almost could have written it myself! 🙂

    • The CH DID give me a ton of armpit rubbing! I usually attribute this to being fairly short (5’3″) and having high set breasts (they seriously start right below my collarbone and end above midway between my elbow and armpit). I don’t know if this alteration works on *all* bras, but to fix my Karmelki I used this alteration from Dressing Curves and it worked WONDERS: It went from being unwearable to one of my favorite bras, though moving the strap and cutting down the sides did exacerbate the already-slightly-too-small-cup!

  7. I think your post is great and you look like you’re in the right size bra. Keep up the fantastic post writing!
    I wear a similar size to yours (28J/JJ) and whenever I try a 30 band I need to fasten it on the tightest hooks immediately unless I want it sliding up to my shoulder blades.
    Break-the-tape-tight I measure 69 cm (27.2″) and I found out through PAINFUL trial and error that I really need a tight 28 band.
    This isn’t Reversed Letterphobia. I still have issues with cups being too small sometimes, but neither Freya nor Curvy Kate bras suit my breasts and the PL style didn’t work for me either. Loose band have rubbed my underbust raw and I have scars from that.

    Dogmatically sticking to one measuring system is nonsense – one will not fit all.
    However, I do believe +0 is the best starting point. Some women will need to add or subtract inches, so why not meet up in the middle?

    • Pretty much exactly how I feel about it! I’ve come to have my bra fitting motto be “if your bra is comfortable, then it’s a good fit”. It ultimately doesn’t matter how many inches you add to your band size, because everyone has a different preference on how tight they’d like their band to be!

  8. Ewa’s rep’s replies really were unprofessional and showed an astounding lack of grasping the basic idea of social media and productive customer dialogue. Well, maybe they learn something from the ensuing backlash and scale back on the arrogance.
    I guess I am one of those people who adhere to the +2 method. If I measure as tightly as humanely possibly and with the help of someone else I am a 28.35/72cm and without I am 30.71/78cm. I sometimes wear a 30/70 band but I mostly prefer 32/75 bands. However, if we look solely at the measurement in centimeters that is actually a +0 CM method.
    With Ewa I wear a 75/34 band, also the Calculator suggests a 70 band. I can close a 70 band but feel squeezed and the 75 actually doesn’t ride up. I wear a bigger cup though. Ewa’s calculator suggests that I am a 70DD while I am currently wearing 75F. However if I only add a centimeter two both underbust loose and my bend over boobs I am at 75E which isn’t far off. Still the calculator is no miracle.
    I own the Karmelki PL and I have the feeling that the wires are rather malleable and different from other Ewa bras. I’d imagine that if you prefer a rather tight band the wires stretch easily and thus distort making the cup more shallow and the wires wider. Having you tried comparing the Mac and Karmelki in that regard? Or do they already have different cup width/depth without stretching.

    • If we’re going with the “tight as humanly possible” measurement, then I suppose I follow +2 as well 🙂 I measure 26″ if I measure as tightly as possible, and wear 28 bands! Ewa’s calculator suggests a 65 for me, and in some bras of hers that would actually be the size I’d take (the PL Lilia, for example!). I agree that the Karmelki is different from the other two bras I’ve own from them (PL Mak and PL Lilia). The wires actually don’t stretch that much from before fastening the band to after fastening the band, but they are just naturally wider than the Mak as well, and the straps were a lot wider than the Mak too. It’s hard to compare also because my Mak is actually a 60K, where the Karmelki is a 60JJ, so they aren’t exactly the same size. The wires of the Mak and Lilia are very firm though! And the Karmelki is not.

      • Much as I like Ewa’s bras, their size calculator sucks. My measurements are 73 cm/76 cm /104 cm as per what the calculator wants to know, and it suggests I should wear 75FF. Holy noodle, sisters! Most of my bras are size 65/30J or 70/32HH. No way I’d EVER fit into Ewa’s FF cup. The biggest EM I have is a 65JJ and it fits like it should.

  9. I know there are signs of a bad bra fit, but I’m no longer completely convinced that anyone can just look at someone in a bra and be 100% certain that they’re in the wrong size, especially at larger cup sizes. As people before me- and you yourself- have mentioned, a lot of it is down to the compatibility of a bra with your boob shape. Add in the density of someone’s breasts and whether she has lower, upper, or even fullness, and it becomes even more complicated. But I think a lot of people are forgetting what’s most important: how a bra *feels* on. Can someone have “reverse letterphobia”? I’m sure they can, but I don’t think anyone can actually determine that from a picture… you’d basically have to be there with that woman, stick your hand inside the sides of her bra, and feel around to go “Nope, this isn’t breast tissue,” and “See, we can pull your boobs forward -this much-,” which would a) be extremely awkward, and b) … did I mention that would be extremely awkward? 🙂 You ultimately have to go by how that woman tells you the bra feels.

    Yes, some people have to “size up” in some EM bras even using the American/British measuring method just to get them to fit; I have one 65 band that fits slightly tight and am pretty consistently a 28 in other brands (about 27.5″ snug not tight), but I have noticed that it’s a common complaint that EM bras don’t grade the straps and cups down with the band size, and that makes it very, very difficult for anyone in larger cups/smaller bands to find a fit that feels good. It doesn’t make much sense to just take the cups of a 36G and place them on a band that measures 28 inches to get a 28J, because people who wear 28Js are often not built the same way as those who wear 36Gs. I do understand that Ewa Michalak is a gifted designer and creates some masterful- and gorgeous- bras, and I greatly appreciate her willingness to make a lot of sizes and do custom orders. It’s a valid complaint that I would have thought could at least be gracefully taken on board even if it wasn’t ever actually addressed in production.

  10. Hi girls :). I’m from Poland, so sorry about my English.
    I dont agree our “conflict” is a cultural difference, we had exactly the same point of view few years ago and we were looking a problem in wires and in straps, generaly in costruction (BTW nowaday constructions are really better). Our discavery I can describe: a band and a size cup _are_not_ two independent parameters! Some woman, whom don’t know about brafitting wear, for example, 36B for maesurement about 75/95 and feel they bra really tight. Why? Becouse they wear too small cap size! Inversely, when a cap size is too large, we may feel a band too loose.
    This was also a little strange for some of us, we started argue ;), but it was really helpfull for more women in Polish. We are calling this revelation a “Balkonetka revolution” ;). That’s not true we all wear our tabular size, same of us need a really tight bands and “+0” or “-2” works, same of us need a size larger then underbust measurement. This is very individual.

    “I tried looking on Balkonetka and could only find 1 woman who was wearing a 30J + an extender. Maybe I just don’t know how to use their search function?”

    Unfotunately, women whit a bigger bust prefer to not insert their photo in an open gallery :(. That’s a pity. But that don’t mean there are not girls with big boobs and small bands in Polish. We have also two secrets galleries, for small bust girls and big bust girls.

    • Thanks Pin Up Girl! You’ve been so helpful to me on Balkonetka too 🙂 One of my favorite new bra buddies! It’s good to know that you are dealing with larger busts as well, I found it very strange that I couldn’t find any sizes around mine on Balkonetka, but it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to put their pictures up, as large breasts often attract a lot of gross attention (my blog has attracted some creepers itself!).

      That said, I’d say that the American/English bra fitting is agreeing with you on band size being a preference – at one point maybe we would’ve said +0 was the only way to go, but just the other day on, a woman posted about having “measured” at a 30E, but she was wearing a 34B and felt comfortable. She asked, “Do I need to get new bras?” and overall the answer was “If you’re comfortable, then no!”. Comfort is the most important part of bra fitting, and I think that goes across all the bra fitting communities 🙂

  11. It really depends on a person’s body and especially their ribcage.For example,I have a very squishy ribcage and need minus 2-6 inches smaller than my average ribcage measurement (the one that’s not loose or tight).I also have a lot of side boob and need wires wide enough.So when I wear bras that are too small in cups and too large in band,I don’t get enough support,often times get a backache and a headache,the straps dig in,the wires dig in at the side cause they are not wrapping around my tissue enough,and all sorts of issues like this.Add to this that a lot of bands are very stretchy.But even in the firmer ones I’ve needed to go down 2 inches at least.
    On the flip size,someone with a more athletic or non-squishy ribcage will want to stick to +0 or even add 2-4 inches and do a sister size.

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