Size is Important or My Cup Runneth Over by Angela Caldin
The Quest for the Bra that Fits
For those of us whom Nature has sought fit to endow with more than the average in the chest department, which includes me, buying a new bra is not always a simple matter. Getting a garment that fits can be quite a challenge. It is, however, easier now than it used to be. Forty odd years ago, when I was young, most women tottered off to M and S who stocked bras in three cup sizes A, B and C. So, if you were actually larger than a C, you had no choice but to cram yourself into a C cup and put up with the fact that you were bound to overspill the edges in every direction.
Considerable research was done (I don’t know who by, but I hope they enjoyed it) which showed that most women were walking around in the wrong size bra. Not only cup size, but also ribcage size: 32, 34, 36 etc. And so began the booming bra industry for women with larger assets. One of the first places to tap into the market was Rigby and Peller and I understand one of their better class of client is the Queen. They are also beloved of Trinny and Susannah who take all their makeover clients there to get properly kitted out before starting on the outer garments. I have been there to be fitted and I can report that it is not altogether a pleasant experience. For a start, the décor is black and red (or was when I went) rather like a tart’s boudoir. Then, in the cubicle, you are required to take off all your upper body garments and stand there exposed while a hatchet-faced woman with a bouffant hair-do and very red lipstick looks you up and down from every angle. She doesn’t touch you and she doesn’t measure you, she just appraises you and finally proclaims that you are some gigantic cup size almost off the scale of the alphabet. Then she brings you numerous bras of every description, frilly, flowery, underwired, seamed, seamless, padded, unpadded and she helps you try on each one, pushing and pummelling until she is satisfied that you are fully contained in a bra that suits you. One of the problems is that all women have one breast bigger than the other, so allowances have to be made for that as well as everything else. Eventually you emerge, battered and bruised, but hopefully a bit more pert than you were when you went in.
There’s another place called Bravissimo (great brand name) where they are not so in-your-boobs about sizing you up. They do a rough estimate and then it’s more of a hit and miss affair until they find something that fits whereupon they start all the pushing and pummelling again. My favourite bra haven, which I discovered during my last visit to Auckland, is Avokado in Newmarket. I went there all geared up to be assessed and prodded, but a charmingly efficient woman, who smiled knowingly as I gave an underestimate of my size yet again, handed me a trial garment to start with and we agreed it fitted well. I wanted one with no seams to go under t-shirts and she brought me a beautifully sculpted specimen immediately. I tried it on and hallelujah, it fitted perfectly. No pushing, no pummelling, no groping about to get everything centralised. Wonderful – and the whole operation had taken less than five minutes.
The Future of Bra Fitting
Now I learn that the US underwear giants, Jockey International, are on the verge of revolutionising the bra industry by introducing an entirely new way of measuring for fittings. After eight long years investigating the sizes and shapes of breasts large and small, they have created a sizing system that takes account not just of ribcage size and cup size but also of breast shape. More brave researchers (how do you get a job like that?) scanned around 800 women’s torsos, collecting measurements from all angles, and then followed the women around, watching how they dressed, sat, held themselves and finding out their complaints about the bras they had and how they had been fitted for them.
At the end of all this meticulous research, Jockey concluded that 10 cup sizes were needed to account for most variations in size and shape. To fit customers accurately, it has created a range of plastic cups into which women must pour their boobs to see which one fits best. That, together with ribcage size, will give a new measurement of anywhere between petite and isthathumanlypossible. You’ll have to pay for the plastic receptacles as well as the bra so this will be an expensive purchase, but there’s no doubt in my mind that a well-fitting bra makes all the difference and is worth every penny.
A Message for Menfolk
And so dear male readers, be aware that these are the kind of things we women have to contend with. Be thankful that you are spared it all, unless of course you are unfortunate enough to develop man boobs, in which case you might want to contact Jockey to suggest they develop a suitable set of plastic pots.