When I first trained to be a bra fitter in March 2011, I clearly remember walking into the room and the wonderful Tracey-Jane Hughes (who was teaching me how to fit bras) took one look at me and declared that she didn’t have any bras in her box that would fit me! She didn’t need to measure me, she just knew!!
There were two very good reasons for this! Firstly, I was one of the 85% of women who wear the wrong size bras. T-J had worked out from photos that I definitely wasn’t the 40B size that I told her I was! (Disclaimer: I was wearing very old nursing bras from my first pregnancy in 2008. These bras very quickly got replaced after the training day!)
Secondly, and most importantly, T-J had been a bra fitter for several years by then and had lots of experience of fitting women. This meant that in the majority of cases, she didn’t need to measure the lady she was fitting.
However, the photos didn’t show that I had lost more weight and was therefore smaller than T-J had anticipated. So she knew immediately that she hadn’t got my ‘size’ bras with her!
After a very full on day of training and trying on of bras that were not quite the right fit for me, I remember thinking that there was no way I would be able to look at a lady and know what her bra size is without measuring her!
Would you buy a bra without being ‘measured’?
This memory came back to me this week as I bumped into an old colleague who asked me what I was doing now. She proceeded to tell me that she recently went into a well known lingerie shop and asked for a fitting. The lady there immediately told her what ‘size’ she was, without getting out the tape measure. My colleague then saw how expensive the bras were and turned around and left the shop!
I’ve been puzzling over this for a few days….. why did she not stay to try on any bras? Was it because of the price tags? Was it because she didn’t feel she would get a properly fitted bra if she hadn’t been measured? I can only wonder and probably won’t ever know why…..
Would you buy a bra without being measured if you had specifically gone somewhere to be fitted?
Bra Fitting Expectations
Every time I see a lady who needs a bra fitting, the expectation is that I will measure her. I always take my tape measure to home fittings, so in most cases, I do actually measure the lady. However, in most cases, I have already worked out her ‘size’ and the measurements confirm my calculations. I have arrived at some home fittings where I’ve known I haven’t got the right size bras as soon as the lady answers the door!
The other issue I often have, is that a lady will ask me what her bra size is…. and this is a question that I can’t give a straight answer to. I know what her under bust and over bust measurements are and I therefore know what her ‘size’ is, but here is the problem…..
If you go into a shop and ‘know’ you are a size 12 for example. Does every pair of trousers in a size 12 fit you? I would say probably not. You need to find a pair of trousers that suits your body shape. It might be that you need a certain style/cut of trouser, or that a size 10 or a size 14 fits better. In one brand you might be a size 12 but in another brand a size 14.
It is exactly the same with bras. A 34D in one style will fit differently in another style. Full cup bras may be a better fit than balconette style bras. Moulded cups may suit one shape, but not another. A plunge style bra may not give enough support to one woman, but it will for another.
To measure or not to measure?
As a bra fitter, you learn which styles of bras suit certain body shapes. You know if a style is more generous in it’s sizing, or if a brand doesn’t use double cup sizing, or if a ‘Medium’ or ‘Large’ is required if the bra has generic sizing.
All of this knowledge comes over time and through fitting many different ladies. So through that experience, you learn to judge a lady’s ‘size’ just by looking at her.
I still measure ladies when I am doing a bra fitting, but this is as much to give re-assurance to the lady that they are getting an excellent service, as it is for me to work out her ‘size’.
If I get asked what size a lady is, I usually tell her the size of the bra that I have fitted her in. I go on to explain that not every bra in this size will be right for her though. Often a lady will buy 2 or 3 bras and these can all be different sizes, which helps them to understand. I also have a story of my own: I picked up a bra in a supermarket in my ‘size’ and when I got home and tried it on, it just did not fit me at all!! As a bra fitter, I should really know better then to buy a bra without trying it on first!
Bra Fitting Guides
I have written some Bra Fitting Guides to help guide you through how to measure yourself for new bras. These guides are written for different stages for both pregnancy and breastfeeding. The size of bra you need will not necessarily be the size you have measured yourself as. Please read the guides and ask if you have any questions!
I’m here to Support You… through pregnancy & beyond!