Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A great illustration of why adding 4-5" to your underbust measurement is wrong...

There's been quite a bit of fuss lately in the bra blogger world over Simply Yours' post where they told women to measure their bra band by adding 4" to the underbust measurement. What is particularly striking to me about this instance of this bad advice is that their fitting table actually acknowledges the existence of 23-24" ribcages- but it then goes on to say that someone with this measurement ought to wear a 28 band. It's clear that it will be impossible to convince manufacturers to make smaller bands until people realize that adding 4" is nearly always incorrect.

One of the best illustrations I have ever seen of just how bad it is to add inches is Georgina's video blog in which she tries on a 40G, the size she would wear if she added 5" to her underbust measurement. Really, just go watch it- and the when you're done, head on over to Simply Yours and tell them why they are giving women bad advice.
:-)

Also check out Cheryl from Invest in Your Chest's response here, the post on Busts 4 Justice here, and Sophia Jenner's response here.

29 comments:

  1. Dear Brit,

    I was wondering if you could please do a post on all the forms that your part of. Thanks.

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  2. I HATE that stupid add-4-5-inches thing. Agree with all you say. Obviously, blatantly, every single day we all see women with similar sized torsos and different sized bosoms attached to those torsos... SO SURELY THAT IS EVIDENCE ENOUGH THAT THE METHOD DOESN'T WORK?? If I followed the 'rule' I would either pop out of a too-small cup or have a cup that fitted with a too-wide band and get shoulder strain.

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  3. All I can say about this debate is that it's got me thinking "maybe the +4 method doesn't work for me because I just have freakish proportions". Fantastic.

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  4. To Eri
    I think think that you if you read Britney's Post you will see the importance of going by your under bust to measurement as is.

    I think that it's wrong to come on here and say that our proportions a freakish, when most likely most women are wearing the wrong bra size.

    I'm sure that if you want you can make a blog of your own or a web page that shows why you think your right. You can ask Britney or any other bra blogger to link your personal study.
    I'm sure they would love for you to prove them wrong.

    You can do what Britney has done on her 24 and 26 Band bras blog post. Take 3 bras what we think of as your ideal bra what you think of as your ideal bra and one bigger than your ideal all the same brand. Put on a nice top and take the pics. You might surprise yourself.

    By the way Brit I would like to say thank you for you blog. I hope you don't mind that use it for illustration on yahoo answers.

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  5. Angela is your comment a reply to En Bouton? Are you saying you don't like the fact that she is calling our proportions are freakish? I don't see that at all in what she said. To me, it sounds like she is saying the add four rule makes her feel like she has freakish proportions, which of course is not true but I don't think she is putting anyone else down.

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  6. Angela, is your comment in reply to En Bouton? Unless something has been deleted, I don't understand why you are saying she's calling our proportions freakish. To me it sounds like she is saying the add four rule makes her feel like she had freakish proportions, I don't see that she is putting anyone else down.

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  7. To Eri and Zoogle
    Sorry if missed read the statement.

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  8. The "add 4 inches" method works for me at the moment. I measure 30.7 inches (78 cm) under the bust and I actually wear 34 and 36 bands (75 and 80, which corresponds to my size in cm). However, the band must be of good quality. Most of my bras are Ewa Michalak's.
    The thing is: I was wearing the same band size when I measured 88 cm under the bust. This is the size of my ribcage, not the fat on it, which gets compressed. A fuller figure will always need smaller band than measured.

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  9. I would guess the add 4 thing would be less horrid when you have less to hold up. It is a disaster for people in my size range! Totally crazy! As if breast tissue sliding down under a wire would ever feel cozy. Seriously? What are these bra manufacturers thinking? Utter rubbish! Exactly what is supposed to be offering the support? The straps and my own perkiness? Please!!! People should also consider age and use... ;-) if you have had a few children you may need the support and shaping more than ever. Thank you for honestly bringing this to people's attention. 4"... honestly...

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  10. Anonymous: I wear a 34GG so it is not like I have less to hold up.
    For me, there are two rules to band fitting:
    - measure underbust really, really tight, as if trying to strangle someone with the measuring tape
    - take into account the band sizes close to the result (usually the lower) - in CENTIMETERS. Sometimes subtract 5 cm. Example: If I almost strangle myself with the tape, I get 77 cm. I feel most comfortable in 75(34) bands, but I also own a few 80(36) bands and only one 70(32) band - the latter bra is uncomfortable not because the band is too tight, but because the cups are digging into my arms. This bra is too loose in the band for its size 70(32)H. I should have it in 75(34)GG, but then the band would be too loose for me.
    I know that girls who measure 77 cm under the bust ofter wear 70(32) bands and I think it is probably either because they wear models with loose bands, or they have smaller ribs and backs than me and do not measure as tightly.
    For me the 4 inches rule makes sense because I count in centimeters and it is known that (for whatever reason) a 34 band means 75 cm, which fits perfectly on my 77 cm.
    As I said before, for this rule to work one needs really good bra manufacturer.

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  11. Well, first of all 4 inches is different from 4 centimeters! Also, I think it has been covered here that people measure differently in the U.S. and elsewhere. No one in the U.S. advises the tight measuring system that it would appear here is common in Poland. I have not heard U.K. women using this super tight measuring system either... so it gets confusing for people when it is not specified which country and form of measurement a person is using. Agg, your band measurement is still smaller than your measurement... that is what is being discussed here. How would a 81 or 82 cm band work for you? Not well or you would be wearing a bigger size. As inches are bigger than centimeters, adding 4 inches to a non-snug measurement leads a LOT of American and British women to an uncomfortable, non-supportive bra. That is the point of all of this...

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  12. Agg,

    This adds confusion. You are saying you wear a smaller band size than measurement and that is with you measuring very, very tightly. I do not see what that has to do with adding 4 inches to a not tightly measured person. Also, inches and centimeters differ significantly. It does not make sense to reference them interchangeably.

    AB

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  13. Agg, I think the issue is that we are being told to add 4 inches to the *comfortable* measurement, not the tight measurement. If you do pull the tape measure as tight as humanly possible and then add 4 inches, it might not be so inaccurate. This is not usually specified though in UK/US measuring advice. Personally, I don't see the point of pulling the tape measure as tight as possible, only to add more to the measurement. Why not just measure comfortably, and not add anything?

    Also, don't forget that Ewa Michalak bras run very tight compared to UK/US brands. We're used to bras from Freya, Curvy Kate, Panache etc where you will need a band 2-4 inches smaller than Ewa Michalak to get the same fit. Don't dismiss other brands just because they have different sizing - Freya are still a very good bra manufacturer, you just have to wear a smaller size to get the same support!

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  14. @Anonymous:
    "Well, first of all 4 inches is different from 4 centimeters!"
    What in my comments makes you think that I don't know the difference?
    "Agg, your band measurement is still smaller than your measurement... that is what is being discussed here. How would a 81 or 82 cm band work for you? Not well or you would be wearing a bigger size."
    As I've said before, I wear both 75(34) and 80(36) bands. I measure (tightly) 77-78 cm, which is 30.5 inches. Add 4 inches (not centimeters)- you get 34.5 or am I missing something here? I wear 34 and 36 bands, which in continental Europe are called 75 and 80.
    @Zoggi:
    "Agg, I think the issue is that we are being told to add 4 inches to the *comfortable* measurement, not the tight measurement."
    Yes, this is exactly the point. The problem is: comfortable measurement tells me only how much fat I have on my ribs or that my body retents more water this day. If I measure myself loosely, I might get measurements from 83 to 88 cm, depending on the day of the month and even on the time of the day. If I add 4 inches to this, I would get a really inaccurate band size. But when I measure tight, I can add 4 inches (or not add anything if measured in centimeters) and get the size I actually wear.
    This is why I advise tight measurement in order to estimate the band size. Of course, the best solution is to try many different bands and cup sizes, but this is not always possible if you order online.
    "Also, don't forget that Ewa Michalak bras run very tight compared to UK/US brands. We're used to bras from Freya, Curvy Kate, Panache etc where you will need a band 2-4 inches smaller than Ewa Michalak to get the same fit. Don't dismiss other brands just because they have different sizing - Freya are still a very good bra manufacturer, you just have to wear a smaller size to get the same support! "
    The uncomfortable 32H bra I was talking about is Freya Eleanor. I have Freya Rio in 34GG, which fits much better - but Rio is known for its tight band.
    I also wear Panache Masquerade Antoinette in 36FF. In general, I wear the same sizes with Ewa Michalak and Panache/Freya.

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  15. Zoggi, I was going to make the same points as you, but you beat me to it. :-)

    I would add that the reason I favor taking your comfortable measurement and using that as your band size is that it is far less confusing for most people to measure that way. Most Americans have issues/worries with things being "too tight" and so they would not measure tight enough and then adding 4" would be simply wrong. While what you say about the variation is true, Agg, I think the best anyone can hope for from a measurement guide is a good starting place. :-)

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  16. Agg - thankyou for responding. I can see your point about the firm measurement being a more accurate indicator of the size of the ribcage, because when you fasten the bra it will compress down more if you're squishier with a small ribcage versus someone else with the same relaxed measurement but a larger, skinnier ribcage. However, I still don't see why you would then add inches, surely that defeats the object? If a 34 inch bra stretches up to 34 inches, then it will fit a 34 inch ribcage, measured as tightly as you would wear the bra.

    To me, this seems like a way of making the person fit the sizing, not the other way around. I'm sure you do have women's best interests at heart, but it sounds a lot like: "how can I take my measurements differently so that I can add four inches without it being four inches too big?"

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  17. Zoggi:
    "However, I still don't see why you would then add inches, surely that defeats the object?"

    Because I measure about 30.5 inches (tightly) around the ribcage and I would not stand ten minutes in an 30 bra.

    "To me, this seems like a way of making the person fit the sizing, not the other way around. I'm sure you do have women's best interests at heart, but it sounds a lot like: "how can I take my measurements differently so that I can add four inches without it being four inches too big?"

    I see your point, but I do not have this problem because I think in centimeters. I measure 77-78 cm - I wear 75 and 80 bands, same as my measurement. Remember that a 75 band is called 34 in UK/US, and 80 is 36 - so it says on my Freya bra: UK 34GG, EU 75GG. Not my idea. It seems that someone subtracted those 4 inches long ago and now you have to add it back, hence the confusion. Add to a tight measurement, because a loose measurement doesn't make sense anyway for the reasons I have written about before.

    Summary:
    The standard bra-fitting advice "measure under the bust and then add 4 inches" is wrong not because of 4 inches, but because it doesn't mention tight measurement, probably for the reasons Brittany writes about. Result: loose bands, ill-fitting bras I see on the streets every day.

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    Replies
    1. @Agg
      No quite the opposite. Someone didn't subtract these inches, but added them. Tomima Edmark from Her Room explains why this happened...
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_h5-Ov5fm8

      Just after World War II the ideal measurements for a woman were 36-24-36. So, to make it more desirable for some reason, they adjusted the underbust measurement to the underbust measurement and started adding 4 inches to an even number and 5 inches to an uneven number. In most European countries the underbust measurement always was the band size, apart from France, where they add 15 centimeters (5.91) to the underbust measurement to get the band size.

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  18. I don't know if this will help you girls with smaller bands size, but have you tried getting your bra felted.

    I wear a 36 band and I have a 36 Under the bust. I mainly shop at Intimacy since there is one in town and i can just take the T in to get a large bra. They offer to felt your bra if the underwire breaks. Well my under wire did break on a few bras but I can always go in a get it felted when that does happen.

    Felting adds a bit of padding so you won't feel the wires. It all so makes the bra last way longer.

    Felt is really cheap to you can get at any fabric, knitting or craft store in many colors. You an even make it yourself if you have the time.

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  19. Agg - I appreciate that you are taking the time to answer my questions, but I think we shall just have to agree to disagree! I feel that I am just repeating myself.

    Your way of measuring only gives me the correct size in Ewa Michalak bras, despite the fact that the label may say EU70/UK32, I would never be able to wear a 32 in UK bras and be supported. Converting between EU and UK sizes is evidently not as simple as just reading the label, so maybe that's why we're not on the same page so to speak.

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  20. @Zoggi: Maybe this is just me with my wide back and ribcage. In fact, the theories about right band size estimation are numerous, even in our bra-maniac community! This is partly because we are all different, partly because the bras from the same manufacturer may differ a lot, not to mention different styles and manufacturers.
    And the only answer, to which I think you agree, is: try as many sizes as you can.
    Thank you for the discussion!

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  21. hi!

    i just found your blog and i think its awesome

    i have a question, have you ever try the forever 21 clothes? specially the dresses?

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  22. I think the point here Agg, is that European band size is not what your underbust measurement is in centimetres. It just isn't, period. If you measure 30.5, a 34 or 36 band would not offer very much support. I measure 28 and I wear a 28 band bra. Anything bigger than a 30 is way too big. If I convert that to European sizes, 28 inches is roughly 70 centimetres. I've tried 32/70 bands. They're way too big. This includes bras from Ewa Michalak.

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  23. try the the 65 or the 60 band then.

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  24. To Anonymous with the 28 band. I wear a 36 band but if was to buy in European sizes I would have to get a 80. My measurements if i did a simple conversion would lead me to think I need a 90.

    Your band size 28 would really be a 60. You can use this chart to better understand sizing world wide. http://brastop.com/fitting_room.aspx

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  25. Interesting discussion.
    Like Agg I am from continental Europe (Holland). I have several methods of measuring. When using centimeters I measure in the same fashion like Agg: as tight as humanly possible, with all the air from my lungs. The result is around 75 centimeters (29.53 inches). This standard European way of measuring is the easiest way and very correct. But if I would measure myself in inches in this extremely tighly manner, I certainly would have to add some inches to get the correct band size, since a 30 band is too tight on me. So - I think - if you are using inches, you should measure yourself almost in the same way like you measure your bust: firmly, but definitely tightly. However there also is another way if you are using inches: the upper chest measurement - without adding anything. But this definitely has to be an extremely tight measurement, or you get a inaccurate, too loose result. I measure 32.68 under my arms, so again this makes me a 32/34. The problem with the inch/centimeter sizing, is that the band measured in centimeters is around 4 inches smaller than in inches (so 32 inches in reality is 81.28 and not 70 centimeter).

    By the way: Continental European brands don't always have looser bands than British brands. Chantelle and Anita are rather comparable to Freya (also in the cups). But Prima Donna and Felina are much tigter with also bigger cups. E.G if you are a 75/34 E (DD) in Prima Donna/Felina, you probably are a 32F in Fantasie. I think Fantasie is a little bit into 'vanity sizing';) It's probably nice when you are a 34D in other brands, you become a 32DD in Fantasie. But if you are a 34GG in Freya and you want to buy something from Fantasie, you become a 32H, and the choice in bra models suddenly becomes much more limited.
    However the Doreen from Triumph and the sports bras from Shockabsorber are rather tight (or you also could call it exact sizing), just like the wireless sports bra from Freya. My real size is a 34HH/75L. But in reality I wear mostly a 32H from Fantasie, a 34GG in most models from Freya, a 34H in Panache and a 34HH in the wireless sports bra from Freya (that is if they would make a HH). Because they don't sell this size I wear a 36H on the tightest hook.

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  26. Sorry, a few mistakes. Unfortunately I can't edit my post;)
    So some of my major mistakes:
    I meant: 'Continental European brands don't always have Tighter bands than British brands.'
    And: 'So - I think - if you are using inches, you should measure yourself almost in the same way like you measure your bust: firmly, but definitely Not tightly.'

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  27. Thank you for your posts, I'm a decently busty girl (certainly not the bustiest, but respectable at a 34D). Before I really knew what size I was, I tried measuring myself using Victoria Secret's over-bust method. It somehow actually told me I was an A cup (and still does to this day, I swear I triple checked). I was already in a C cup that was getting too small at the time though, so I knew that couldn't be right. Since then I've just decided to be amused at what companies will tell us to do to size ourselves. In the end, I guess it's as I've seen you say in another of your more recent posts, you need to know your own dimensions.

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  28. I used to work as a Bra Specialist at GapBody, and they trained us to add 5" to the band measurement when doing bra fittings. I think Victoria's Secret also trains this way.

    Needless to say, I was SHOCKED when someone at another store recently put me into a 36 band instead of the 40/42 I'd been wearing. Amazing difference!

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I always love to hear your thoughts! Please remember to be respectful. I may not publish comments that are rude, hateful, personal attacks, racist, sexist, or otherwise inappropriate. Dissenting opinions are fine, as long as they are respectful. Thanks!