I know, it seems a little misleading. Even disengenuous. But I fully intend to do bra reviews here, truly! It’s just…
I really am weirdly shaped. Statistically speaking (although without specifics), I seem to be quite in the minority when it comes to the relative size of my breasts (quite large, obviously) to my ribcage (deceptively small). My friends joke that maybe all of my organs are stored in my boobs, as there is obviously no room in my torso. I have met a number of delightful and certainly busty ladies with my exact underbust and overbust measurements, but almost all of them wear bras with cups several sizes lower (relative to any specific bra’s size). Bra calculators always size me wrong, and even indie bra-makers that I’ve spoken to directly tend to think I am exaggerating until they see pictures of me in the bra sizes I tell them about. Here is (at least to the best of my understanding) why.
***BEEP BEEP BEEP! WARNING! THIS POST IS LONG AND ALMOST ENTIRELY TEXT! I WAS GOING TO TRY TO MAKE PICTURES LIKE THE AWESOME ONES AT HYPERBOLE AND A HALF BUT THEN IT GOT SO VERY LATE AND ALSO I AM NOT GOOD AT DRAWING SO I DIDN’T AND JUST WROTE A TON OF OVERLY SPECIFIC INFORMATION ABOUT MY BOOBS AND BRAS AND STUFF! ALSO THEY ARE PROBABLY GOING TO ARREST ME FOR ABUSE OF PARENTHESES. BEEP BEEP BEEP!***
Because my overall bust area is so large, it is hard to tell that underneath my boobs is some sort of freakish tiny mutant chest, small enough that most people can curve their hands around the sides of it and touch my back with their thumbs at the same time as touching the front with their fingers. This is compounded by the fact that I have what are known as narrow roots, which essentially means that the total width of each breast where it starts on my chest is rather small (more on this and other breast shape, size, and density possibilities in a future post); my breasts begin and end on the front of my body. They are also high set (they start just below my collarbone) and not particularly tall. What all this means is that I not only have a lot of boobage, but it is also concentrated on a very small body area spanse, so all of that breastiness just goes straight out. Tons of projection. Consequently, I need extremely narrow underwires and a ton of depth in the cups of my bras. I also need very tight bands to prevent riding up, as my back doesn’t really taper; my underbust measurement appears to be basically the same as what you would get it you could somehow measure around my chest directly underneath my boobs. Coupled with the heaviness of the breasts pulling relentlessly down on the straps (which in turn pulls the band up), I need a true size 28 band to feel well supported. I also apparently have small shoulders, which I had not noticed till I realized that I have never had a bra which came with straps I didn’t have to shorten through alteration. Without proper support from the straps, my boobs push the underwires down and inwards, which causes me to feel like I have been kicked in the ribcage by a kangaroo every night by the time I am taking the bra off. MEANWHILE (what’s that you say? That seems like enough issues? Yes, yes it does), once I do shorten the straps, I usually discover that the cups are too tall and the straps too widely set, and that because of those factors, shortening the straps has now caused the armhole to shrink to child-like proportions, which means that wearing it the way I’d like to puts me at risk of double arm amputation via bra rubbing. This seems to be a plague well-known to petite busty ladies, but relatively unheard of otherwise. Certainly bra makers on the whole are not addressing it.
The whole thing would be laughable if it weren’t causing me back, ribcage, and arm/armpit pain every damn day.
Take, for example, the Panache Jasmine (nice review by Erica at A Sophisticated Pair here), a favorite of many women I know with breasts of all shapes and sizes. On the recommendation of someone with a very similar body type to my own, I bought one in 30JJ (they don’t make it in 28K, unfortunately).
Panache Jasmine, in a slightly more festive print than the one I have.
At first, it seemed like it might be at least okay, if not downright well-fitting! The cups gave good shape and the stretch lace on the upper part didn’t cut into my full-on-top (well, full-all-over really) boobs. I liked the material, the overall design was pretty, and the wires, while very much too wide, didn’t cause me much discomfort. The band was too large, but bringing in a band is not a terribly difficult alteration, and seemed to be a small price to pay for an otherwise useful brassiere. But then… *pauses to sigh sadly* Then the straps, which I had had to tighten fully from the very first wear, began to stretch out. The already somewhat too large band stretched as well. I started to get that familiar ache in my ribcage where the wires were pressing in all day. I noticed that when I took it off, the red marks all over my upper body looked a lot angrier than the ones I had gotten from general wear in the past. And then I noticed something particularly troubling: despite the fact that I always pull my bras up to the point where the wires sit at the creases where my breasts meet my body, the red marks from the wires at the end of the day were sitting at least two inches lower than that. I knew the straps were on the loose side, but YEESH. So I had the back taken in and the straps shortened. ET VOILA! But what’s this? Surely not another issue, you say? Mais oui. Once the straps were able to be shortened enough, I put on the bra eagerly, giddily shortening until the cups were just where I wanted them! Oh wait, no, I didn’t, because midway to where they were going, they were stopped by my arms, which were inconveniently continuing to be attached to my body next to my boobs, despite the fact that the lower sides of the bra’s cups were attempting to move there. What nerve! So I did what any girl hoping for some fashion advice does: I consulted The Internets.
I belong to a number of online groups and such for busty women, and luckily, there are some absolutely fabulous ladies out there whose knowledge of both fitting issues and sewing greatly outshines mine. Once it became clear that my issue was known to many a petite busty lady and I narrowed down the specifics of what I needed, I found some very good resources, chief among them being the woman who writes the blog Dressing Curves. She is a veritable fount of knowledge and general awesomeness, as well as someone who understands my specific issues because, as a similarly sized and shaped lady, she shares most of them. She explained that in order to make most bras work on figures like ours, one must widen the armhole and bring the straps somewhat in towards the center in front, and she sent me this handy tutorial. The extent of my sewing skills comprises stabbing myself in the finger while trying to get the first stitch into things and then swearing in a copious and colorful fashion, so I had someone else try the alterations on the Jasmine. And finally! I had a bra that mostly fit me. It still dug in a bit, but not enough to stop me from wearing it, and the shape! Oh, the shape. It lifted my boobs to their actual spot on my body, held them aloft and proud like two prizewinning melons at some sort of tropical county fair. Upon putting it on, I instantly appeared fifteen pounds thinner. The cleavage was epic. I went to a weekly event and the people there all exclaimed about how amazing I looked, despite having seen me just a week before. It was awesome.
…Until the newly tight band totally warped the wires and caused them to stretch (widen?) all the way around my torso and then pull inwards in a decidedly stabby way right at the back of my ribcage. I’ve all but stopped wearing it.
So here we are. I know you want bra reviews. And I want to give them to you. But I don’t really have anything to show you yet, as my quest to find bras that work is far from over. I don’t really want to post about what is not working, because it seems unfair to penalize bras for not fitting when they weren’t supposed to be my size to begin with (although it would be great if said bras would just come in my size, but I digress). I do have one bra that has been similarly altered and is working better than most, and I am thinking of reviewing that one for you all, but really, for the bra reviews, I’d like to just show you what works.
I’m hopeful. I recently received an order of bras from Ewa Michalak, a small lingerie manufacturer in Poland known for having narrow wires and, for an extra fee, bras in a very wide variety of otherwise hard to find size. While not perfect, they are very close to good, and I am in the process of having them altered to fit me better right now. My hope is that once the armholes are a bit larger (they were better than most to start with) and the straps shorter, they will be gorgeous and well fitting and I will want to take a whole plethora of pictures for you. I’m trying to get in touch with the company about the fit issues; if I can get something figured out, I’d really like to try their newer “S” cut in these absolutely fabulous styles, the adorable polka dotted S Lolitka and the minty and sweet S Fresh, just in time for summer:
I also have an order being made for me by Braologie (note: they seem to be serious bra and clothing makers despite the emphasis on sexiness and squished cleavage in the pictures). Braologie is not well established in the US or Europe yet, but they have very interesting views on how bras should fit and the way they should support and shape the bust, and their company produces a lot of additional posture-support clothing items that work in tandem with the bra to support the breasts and improve posture. I splurged and ordered one of their packaged posture-improving sets with several bras, two mini-vests, a camisole, and pair of shaping pants (kind of like Spanx, from what I understand), which are supposed to work in tandem to really improve your overall posture and also give your boobs some serious oomph. My main hope, though, is that I will be able to alleviate some of the back and hip pain I suffer from with the vastly increased support Braologie products are supposed to provide, along with the hip-and-pelvis-alligning magic with which the pants are endowed. I can’t vouch for them yet, obviously, but I like their general outlook and the customer service has been FANTASTIC. Also, the reviews have generally been very positive (see this one, from a dear cohort of mine, Vee – even though she didn’t have the right size at the time of writing, she still had great things to say about the bra in general – I will link to additional takes on them in my proper review).
And last but very far from least, I have recently been experimenting with another Polish bra company: Comexim. It had been on my radar for a while, but then some absolutely fabulous reviews started coming out about their bras, and very excitingly for me, they were ranked (if anyone knows the author, please let me know so I can credit properly) in this extremely helpful chart as having the narrowest wires out of all the even moderately well-known companies in the busty blogosphere. Things were clinched for me when The Feminine Curve specifically reported in this post reviewing the Juliette (check out the beautiful photos – I’m so impressed) that the straps were placed more towards the center than other bras she’d tried. I am currently in the final stages of figuring out sizing (Polish bra companies typically use something like European sizing, but it varies somewhat by brand – I will post more about this and about ordering from the various fabulous Polish lingerie and clothing companiesin general in a future post), and will then be placing an order with some of my fabulously curvy ladyfriends. As part of the process, I bought a bra to test sizing with from another woman in one of the communities I frequent… And it almost fits! The wires are perfect! The cups are a little too small and the band is too big, but the wires make me so happy, the gore is narrow (which means my boobs stay on the front of my body rather than getting pushed out and eclipsing my armpits), and even when pulled up, the cups barely dig in to my arms and armpits at all! BRALELLUJAH! Can I get an amen?! And, to sweeten the deal, Comexim offers several options on any of their bras, including one to have lower (or shorter) cups, which I am assuming will almost, if not entirely, reduce the risk of arm amputation. I am beyond excited about this. I have one more bra coming in the same size (it’s moulded, while the one I have now is not, and I hear the moulded ones run slightly larger, which would be perfect); it’s an adorable little black number with pink polka dots, and I’m even getting the matching undies. If it fits as well as I’m hoping, we may have a contender for the first entry in the Weirdly Shaped and Well Supported series of reviews on the brog. This is the li’l beauty, the Jennifer, as featured on their website:
Of course, finances are always an issue too (I am a musician by day, you know), so even once I get shape issues straightened out, I won’t be able to bra shop to my heart’s delight. But I will do as much as I can, dear readers, and I will probably even let you vote on which ones I order first! Huzzah for bra reviews to come!
So. That was practically a novella, but now you know everything you would ever want to (and probably considerably more) about my boobs and upper body in general, and hopefully for those of you who are similar in measurements, you will know better whether a fit issue I have would effect you as well, or whether you might have one that I don’t. And for those of you who were just waiting for bra reviews and pictures… Now you know why you’re still waiting. Prithee have faith. The day will come. And it will be a good, good day.
There are a lot of really fabulous reviews out there from other busty bloggers on all of the companies I mentioned above. I intend to link to them directly in future posts once I get to actually review the bras, but if you would like me to make a small directory of links to reviews from each company as a future Thursday post (I can also include other companies whose brands are well-liked, despite not working on me particularly well for whatever reason), please let me know! And if you are a blogger and want to recommend a specific post or three from your blog, rather than just having me pick ones that suit my fancy, please feel free to send me links. I’d like to give my readers a look at whatever you think your best entries on these topics are.
As always, any other comments, questions, feedback, rants, etc. are more than welcome! I love to hear from you all.
And thank you, gentle readers, for stopping by and giving my blog a little slice of your day.