Boob Growth and Some Other Stuff

Hey guys! I have a fluid mechanics test coming up on Monday, so you know that means it’s time for me to write a new post 😛 My favorite form of procrastination!

So what prompted me to write this was realizing that my PL Mak, which when I first received it almost 3 months ago, was a little too big without the push up pads in place, now fits perfectly without them. Picture evidence:

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Now

PL Mak front no pads

Before

PL Mak three quarter no pads

Before

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Now

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Now. (Ignore the pit stain 😛 A college student with only 1 well fitted bra doesn’t have time to hand wash something very often! Haha)

PL Mak profile no pads

Before

 

 

 

This is one of the reasons Ewa Michalak really meets my needs. Maybe the pictures don’t show it as well as I can see it, but this bra is much more full now than it was at the beginning of January. I don’t know if it was tissue migration, the fact that I’m only 19 and could well be experiencing breast growth still, or something else, but I love that with Ewa I can order a size up from what my “safe” choice would be and I don’t have to worry about it much. I also love that now that this bra doesn’t gape without pads, I can use them just for extra cleavage when I feel like it (and if I’m being honest, I always feel like it!). So yeah. If you know your boobs are growing (mine seem to have been growing steadily since around last April), ordering a cup size up in an Ewa Michalak bra that comes with removable pads is a good plan. I know that before I got this bra, I was having to buy a new bra in a higher cup size ever 3 months or so. I just do not have the money for that! I got three months out of this bra with the pads, so hopefully I’ll get at least three months out of it without the pads before it is just all around too small. That will still be twice the average life span of my bras prior to this.

The “other stuff” I mentioned in the title is just this little thought I had inspired by the semi-controversial Bras I Hate & Love post about using +2 instead of +0. I personally disagree, but to me it also doesn’t matter that much what the starting point is because I’m going to end up  just telling everyone to do what’s comfortable for them, and +0 is just more logical to me than +2 (I personally find it much easier to tell if a band is too small than if it’s too big) but that isn’t what my thought was about.

After reading the post, naturally I tried on a few bras to see if I was falling victim to the very tight band look that she had going on in 28 bands. When I saw that picture, it looked very uncomfortable! I thought, “Surely my back doesn’t look like that! Wouldn’t I have noticed?”. Then, she mentions strained hooks as a symptom of a too small band. And my super comfortable, perfectly fitted (in my opinion) PL Mak has strained hooks! So today I took a picture of what my back looked like in it, to see if it was indeed too small.

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The hooks do appear strained, though not nearly as strained as the ones on the 28 bands in her post, but I don’t get the corset-like compression she describes. I think my back here does look similar to her well fitted 30s (it’s hard to see what the hooks in her well fitted bras look like because her example is a darker bra and it’s a rather dark photo).

But the hooks on this bra do look pulled out when I take it off. But the more I looked at all my bras… all of my hooks look strained.

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28K PL Mak hooks

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28J Tease Me hooks (usually worn on the 3rd set)

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34DD Victoria’s Secret push up bra hooks

So, yeah. Obviously the PL Mak is the most pulled, as it is the smallest of the bands shown. But it’s also the only one that doesn’t ride up and move around. The 28J Tease Me stretches to 32″, far above my underbust measurement of 28.5″, but still shows signs of strain and pulling out. Even on the 34DD, the hooks I usually wore the bra on are pulled further out and show some strain (compared to the first pair of hooks which I don’t think I ever used), though obviously they show the least strain, since that band stretches to ~36″.

Basically I’m not sure that for everyone, strained hooks is a sign of a too small band. Two of these bras are definitely too LARGE in the band for me and the hooks are still pulled. Also when you look at how the back of the PL Mak fits me, I don’t think it looks too small. It has the normal amount of bubbling underneath the band, but none from the top, but the hooks strain. But I can pull it around 3″ away from my body, and it’s perfectly comfortable to me.

I guess ultimately it doesn’t matter. If your hooks strain but the bra is comfortable to you, wear it. I keep worrying that I’m wearing my band too tight, after reading about reversed letterphobia and the Bras I Hate & Love post, and I keep doubting myself. But then I remember that I have multiple bras in a 30 band that lay unused in my drawer because I can’t even leave the house without pulling the band back down to the correct level. I wish I could wear a 30 though! So many more options!

The other “other stuff” that I’ll go ahead and mention again, in case you don’t follow me on Facebook, is that I’ve made a couple purchases relevant to the blog! I bought the Small Red dress from Urkye in a 36oo/ooo and the Carmen bra and Carmen stringi from Comexim in a 65L and a size large. I’m in between sizes at Urkye, and in hindsight feel like I should’ve gone for the 38oo/ooo for the extra boob room (my bust measurement is too large for any of the size 36 clothes), but whatever. I’ll just wear shapewear and hope for the best on the boobs, since it’s made from stretchy fabric. The Comexim bra is going to be an iffy fit, because I bought it in what’s essentially a 30HH. I hear the bands run tight sometimes, and would rather have a slightly too large band than an unwearable one, so I went up a band size. Nowadays I think I’m a 28JJ (I think?!?!?!), and therefore would’ve needed a 30J, but the Carmen doesn’t come in a larger cup size, and it’s sooooo sexy… I couldn’t pass it up! And honestly, all my bras aside from the Mak are too big in the band and too small in the cup, and that doesn’t stop me from wearing them, and that won’t stop me from wearing Carmen assuming all else looks good.

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Red Dress from urkye.pl!

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Carmen set from comexim.pl

Hopefully you guys don’t mind my hodge-podge post! Haha I just had a little to say about a lot of things. Also, how would you guys feel if I branched the blog out to other things (makeup, shoes, non-busty-specific clothing, general woman-with-curves things, delicious recipes?). I don’t really have enough money to do bra reviews very often, and now that I’m kind of buying exclusively from Poland, there isn’t much selection for me either. Let me know what y’all think!

How Does BODY Shape Affect Bra Fit? (Also unintentionally a review of the Freya Piper.)

Something that gets discussed often (and for good reason!) is how BREAST shape affects how bras will fit, but I haven’t seen much discussion on how BODY shape can affect bra fit.

I started thinking about this after a trip to Nordstrom while I was in Atlanta this weekend. Nordstrom is one of the few stores in the US that carries extended sizes and UK brands, but even they don’t carry my usual size of 28J. However, I am always wanting to do more bra research, and I was with my sister, who wears around a 30G and therefore DOES fit into their range, so I popped in to check out the selection.

At first I thought that perhaps I was in a not very good Nordstrom, because I couldn’t find any UK bras anywhere! I was getting ready to give up and leave the store when a mannequin hanging on the wall caught my eye – it was wearing the Freya Piper set, one that I really love! The sales girl on the floor saw me looking at it excitedly and pointed me and my sister to the correct rack (only one in the whole store!). I know that the Freya longline bras start at a 30 band and only go up to a G cup, but I am so in love with longline bras that I was determined to try it on and see just how bad the fit was anyway!

I first tried on a 30G, whose 30 band was actually a perfect fit, even though I measure 28.5″ underbust and often find that Freya’s 28 bands are too large for how I like my bands! Unfortunately (and predictably), the cups were too small, and my double boob was too great to mask under a shirt. I decided to try on a 32G, to see if that was better.

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The cups on this were a much better fit, I think a 32GG would’ve been perfect cup-wise, but alas, this bra ends at a G cup.

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Slight quadboob visible from a 3/4 view, but maskable in clothing.

Obviously the 32 band was too big, but it was totally doable on the tightest hook! Not what you want from a brand new bra, but it does indicate that it would be alterable! My only concern about buying this bra (or any Freya longline) with the intention of altering is that I often find taking in the band exacerbates double boob in any cups that are even slightly too small.

I am in love with this bra. I love the really round shape it gives me, and it gave me a decent amount of projection. My only complaint is the lack of cleavage, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t an issue for most people, I just have a personal preference for the way my boobs look smushed together 😛

Now on to the original idea behind this post…

How Does My Body Shape Affect My Bra Fit?

Realizing that a 30 band was a perfect fit in this bra was very confusing and unexpected for me. I always wear 28s. Freya 28s have always been too big for me, even! So where did this bra surprise come from? I decided that it’s because I have this weird fat roll right below my boobs. I’m not overweight, (5’3″, 130-135lbs, usually), but my stomach is sort of weird shaped, and my underbust measurement is smaller than my ribs, but (slightly) larger than my waist. It’s like I go out-in-out-in-out instead of the usual hourglass out-in-out. This means that when I’m trying on something that comes down below where a normal bra band would sit, I can comfortably go up a band size without compromising support! My world has been opened!

My beautiful fat roll :) Taken stealthily in public!

My beautiful fat roll 🙂 Taken stealthily in public!

Unfortunately, while my body shape has helped me fit a bra in this instance, I hear more often about women whose body shape makes bra fitting difficult for them. For instance, women with pectus excavatum, “the most common congenital deformity of the anterior wall of the chest” (according to Wikipedia) will have a very difficult (or impossible!) time finding a center gore that sits flush with the chest. This means they often won’t get the same level of support that a women without pectus excavatum would be able to achieve.

Sometime body shape just means that using the usual underbust-as-band-size bra fitting method won’t work. Thinner women will often find bands this tight uncomfortable since they don’t have as much padding on their ribs as someone heavier. Muscular women may have a more triangle shaped back and also need a larger band size than their underbust measurement would indicate.

How does your body shape affect what bras you can and can’t wear? Also I can only really speak with experience on how my own body affects what bras I can wear and relate things that I’ve heard other women say before, so if any example above is incorrect or not your experience, just let me know and then bra knowledge will grow everywhere! 

What’s normal for a well fitted band?

This is going to be a pretty brief post, but it’s something I’ve noticed being asked fairly often by women who are new to correctly sized bras: I have red marks from my bra, is that normal?

Of course, the answer to this is YES! This is not only normal, but probably will always happen, just like you get red marks on your stomach from elastic waistbands, or on your ankles from socks, or on your hips from panties.

Then I get the question “How red/deep is normal?”

I pretty much feel like your band should be as tight as you can wear without major discomfort. Red marks that disappear within a half hour or so? Normal. A bra that digs in all day so that you can’t stop thinking about it, and red welts that are painful and itchy? Band too small! In order to try to show people what’s normal, I wore my Curvy Kate Tease Me (which has a pretty good band for me, maybe sometimes a little on the loose side since it’s getting a good amount of wear) for a half hour or so. If these pictures were after I’d worn it all night, the red marks would probably be darker and more prominent, so please keep that in mind until I can update it with after-all-day pictures!

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For most people, the band in the middle would probably not leave quite so deep a mark. The reason it’s so dark there is because I was sitting the entire time I was wearing it, and I have a fat roll right below my boobs, so bands can tend to dig in there. Notice you can see the outline where my wires sit on me- that’s totally normal. As you can see (besides the dark mark in the middle that  I’ve already explained), the marks are pretty non-consequential. Here’s what they look like from the side:

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Once again, the darker red spot is because I was sitting and my stomach is just a weird shape, but the rest of these marks are all almost exactly what it looks like after I take my tights off at the end of the night (except quite a bit higher up on my torso!!)

So that’s my example of what (my) normal bra marks look like! Keep in mind that this is immediately after removing my bra, and in the time it’s taken to write this post (~15 minutes) they’ve almost completely disappeared. Your bra should never leave raised marks, painful or itchy marks, or cut into your skin in any way that’s severely uncomfortable. However, a properly tight band is the foundation for support, and red marks such as these above are to be expected!

*EDIT*

Here are the red marks from an altered Freya Deco. The darker red square shape you see in the side profile picture is from this alteration. I did it myself and it left a section that sticks out more than the rest of the band, which sometimes digs in uncomfortably, but is usually fine, just leaves a darker spot.

Once again, I’ve been sitting for a little bit in this one. My marks are still not uncomfortable in any way.

Here you can see that red square from the alteration that I was talking about. Once again, still not uncomfortable, but probably isn’t normal for most bras.

Are you wearing the wrong size?

Before I delve into the reviews, I figure I should probably discuss how to know if you’re wearing the correct size. If you don’t know the signs of a poorly fitting bra, then how will you know if the bras fit well in the reviews I do?!

The state of bra sizing in the  USA at the moment is really quite dim. In stores that aren’t specifically bra boutiques for large busted women, I usually get measured as a 34DD or SOMETIMES a 34DDD. With a 28.5″ underbust. If I didn’t know how bras were supposed to fit, I’d be stuck wearing bras that look like this:

You might be thinking, “Oh, well that doesn’t look so bad!” and you’re right. From the front, this bra is doing okay, except for the fact that the cleavage in something that isn’t a push up bra might be a symptom of a bigger problem.

Wait… if I can pull the band away from my body so far that my breasts start falling out… then how is that supportive? Well, it’s not. 80% of the support from your bra should come from the band, and if you look closely at the picture you may be able to notice that the straps are digging into my shoulders, which leaves uncomfortable red dents at the end of the day (but luckily I haven’t had to wear this poorly fitting monstrosity in months, maybe a year!)

Here is another picture showing how large this band really is. And this is fastened on the tightest hook. If your band rides up in the back, then the cups fall forward and your breasts don’t sit as high as they’re supposed to! In a bra with a properly tight band, your breasts should sit midway between your elbow and shoulder, and the band should be horizontal.

This picture also brings me to another part of this bra that is very poorly fitting: the cups. How can you tell if your cups are too small? Well, besides the obviously quadriboob (seen in the photo below), a cup that is too small will also not contain all of your breast tissue on the side. Do you see how the wire in this picture is poking directly onto fatty tissue? This is because the wire is not wide enough for the breast tissue that has collected under my armpit after years of wearing the incorrect size. Theoretically, it could be that the wires are wide enough, but my breast tissue hasn’t been properly placed in the cup. If I scoop all of the breast tissue I can forward, in front of the underwire…

Ok, the wire is in the right spot (mostly)…

But now I’m a four boobed alien.

So this is what years of Victoria’s Secret fittings have done to me! Turned me into a person with either a lot of armpit fat or an alien with four breasts! Admittedly, my boyfriend might quite like the latter, but I for one, do not!

So how did I stumble upon my correct size, and become a haven of bra related knowledge?

Well, once upon a time (summer before my senior year of high school) I had just graduated from 34D to a 34DD. “A DD?!” I thought, “That’s huge! I am going to need underwire bathing suits to support giant DD breasts! Pamela Anderson has DD’s… people who get implants have DD’s… that’s like, the largest size available!”

So off I ventured to a local store that I’d walked past before. They had underwire bathing suits in the windows and I thought that hopefully I’d be able to pick something up in a 34DD there.

When I walked into Breakout Bras, they insisted on fitting me for anything. They’ve since done away with this, I think, but at the time they were a very new store, I’d never been there, and they had very little stock on the floor. So off I was whisked to a dressing room, and I was fitted as a 30FF (a more detailed post of being fit at Breakout Bras will follow!), and put in a lovely nautical inspired Panache bandeau bikini with boyshorts. I LOVED it. I loved the support of a well fitting bra. I was hooked.

Unfortunately, not all women have access to wonderful bra experts, especially in the US. But hopefully my blog can help some of those women out! In conclusion, here’s a condensed list of the signs of a poorly fitting bra, and how to fix them:

  1. Your straps dig into your shoulders, leaving dents and creating shoulder pain. Solution: Your band is too big, forcing the straps to take on the weight of your breasts. Go down a band size or two and up one or two cups (as the band size decreases, the cup size increases, so 34DD=32E=30F=28FF. These are called “sister sizes” because the cup volumes are the same.)
  2. You immediately fasten your band on the tightest hook, or your band rides up your back during the day, causing the cups to fall forward. Solution: Your band is too big, go down in band size until it is very firm on the loosest hook. This will allow your bra to last longer, because you can move to the inner hooks as the elastic wears out.
  3. Your breasts spill out of the top or sides of your bra. Your cup is too small. Move up a cup size.
  4. Your breasts don’t quite fill the cups, causing wrinkling or gaping. Your cup may be too large. Before moving down a cup size, check that you have properly placed your breasts in the cups. As you put on your bra, lean over and get as much breast tissue as possible into the cups. Fasten the bra and stand up, and then scoop any breast tissue you might have in your armpit forward into the cup. If there is still wrinkling, go down a cup size.
  5. The center gore does not lay flat against your sternum. Solution: Your cup is likely too small, and your band might be too large. 

There are a few other signs that will get covered as this blog continues, but these are the most obvious and will get you on the road to finding your correct size.

So how is it that I am continuously placed into this poorly fitting bras? It all comes down to how the store measures. Many retailers use a very outdated formula of adding 4 inches to the raw underbust measurement. This originated in the 1930s, when bras were made out of much firmer material. If you measure a 34 inch band today, unstretched, it does equal 30 inches. But because of the elasticity of today’s materials, these bands no longer support the breasts of a woman with a 30 inch underbust.

Still stranger is the method of measuring under the armpits and over the breasts to determine band size. I don’t know where this ever came from, but it seems to be the devil for larger breasts. If you have larger breasts, then this measurement ends up including breast tissue, expanding the measurement. I have heard that this method works fine for small chests, but for a large chested girl it is horrible, and how I am continuously placed into bands 6 inches too large for me.

The method that I use (and that most ACTUAL professional bra fitters use) is using the raw underbust measurement as the starting point for band size. I measure 28.5, so I wear a 28 band (although I could sometimes do with a 26, depending on how the bra runs!). This method won’t work for all women either, and some women may find that they prefer to add up to 2 inches, or subtract inches, but I firmly believe that once you begin adding more than 2 inches, your support becomes compromised.

If you have any questions about your fit, or how to measure, you can ask in the comments and I’ll be sure to answer!