Newsflash! You're probably wearing the wrong bra size. Even if you don't think so.
Following on from Zara's column about her experience shopping for a big-busted bikini at Bravissimo, it's time for my story. Last year we sent some our girls there for a fitting and they raved about their experience. So, having put on weight, I decided to see if Bravissimo could sort me out (even though I walked in wearing a C cup bra).
It's safe to say I got my wish. In the course of an afternoon, my boobs went up two and a half cup sizes and down a back size. It didn't take surgery, 'miracle' creams or even contraceptive pills. All it took was an expert fitting and the realisation that, actually, my boobs are much bigger than I thought...
Ten minutes into my appointment, I stood in a fitting room with a very snug 'mystery' bra on, listening to my fitter, Sophie, telling me that I could probably afford to go up another size. I knew the smallest I could be wearing was a D, so this came as a bit of a shock in itself. The bra she proceeded to bring me that fitted perfectly? A 34E!
Trust me, the look on my face was a picture when she revealed my 'new' size, and I had to check the label after she'd left before I really believed her. There it was, staring me in the face (quite literally). An E cup bra that magically lifted my boobs a couple of inches higher than they'd ever been before and held in all the fleshy bits. I could see the line on my skin where my bra sat previously - much lower and a lot less flattering. Even the back was the perfect fit, even though I never thought 34 inches was enough to go around my flab! The biggest rule to learn when buying bras is that it's this band that should take the strain, and not the straps. We all overcompensate when it comes to band size. It should fit on the last hook, to allow for stretch.
When I tried on other bras in the same size (and later some styles / brands in a DD) it was easy to see where I was going wrong before. Like a lot of curvier women, the 'fullness' in my chest isn't around the cleavage, but towards the sides. Sophie explained to me that certain brands (hello Panache and Kalyani) would work well on me because they have wider cups, rather than deeper ones. The bras I was wearing before - though they seemed big enough - weren't wide enough towards my armpits, so I was compensating by going bigger on the band size.
Going home with two new bras in my brand new size was a bit of a revelation. With my boobs now in the right place, dresses that barely zipped up before now fit. Blouses that gaped now button up completely. Even t-shirts look better with the correct scaffolding below them.
I think the biggest myth we have to address is that anything over a D cup is 'big'. When you consider the average UK woman is a size 14 - 16 now, a D or DD cup on that frame is actually fairly standard. More and more brands, from Wonderbra to M&S are branching out into larger cup sizes because we need them as a nation. Our boobs are getting bigger...and I urge you to get re-fitted if you have even an inkling that you might be wearing the wrong size.
80% of us are, after all...and I bet you're one of them.