Archive for : June, 2013

Are you wearing the right Bra?

Are you wearing the right sized bra?
Buying a new bra is possibly up there in the top most-hated shopping experiences for a woman – up there with shopping for swimsuits and jeans. But what may seem overwhelming can actually be quite fun – and simple! – if you have the know-how and tools to get it right.
All you need is a pen, paper, and a flexible tape measure.
The most important thing is to buy the correct size. Up to 80% of women are wearing the wrong sized bra – and the average woman will wear six different bra sizes throughout her adult life. Weight gain or loss, hormonal changes, breastfeeding, menopause, etc can all have a dramatic impact on the natural size of the breasts and also the torso – which is just as important in fitting a bra as breast size. The wrong sized bra is not only uncomfortable, it can be unhealthy too. Neck problems, back pain, and postural issues are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s worth getting it right.
Bra sizes are based on two main measurements: busts and underbust. The combination of these two measurements will determine your band size and cup size. The cup is sized relative to the band – so not all cups are equal! For example, if a 12C bra might be correct for cup size but too big in the band, the correct size to try would not be a 10C, but a 10D. Confusing? It doesn’t need to be.
Follow these easy steps:
1. Measure Underbust: wear your most comfortable bra but nothing else on top. Use a flexible tape measure. Measure around the rib cage directly under your breasts, with the tape not too tight or loose. The tape should be parallel to the floor (use a mirror to check). This measurement (in centimetress) is your band size. Record it.

2. Measure Bust: Measure with tape, again parallel to the floor and not too tight or loose, around the fullest part of your bust (still wearing your comfy bra). Your breast shape should not be impinged upon by the tape – have it comfortable against your body all the way around but no pressing. Record this measurement, again in centimetres, rounded to the nearest centimetre.

3. Determine your bra size: The sizing chart will help you work out your optimal bra size:


The following are signs the bra you are wearing is the wrong size:

*  Baggy Cups = Cup size too large

• Bulging Boobs (top or sides) = Cup size too small
• Bra straps dig in = straps adjusted too tight, cups too small, or band too large
• Protruding wires = band size too large
• Back rides up = band size too small
The right bra isn’t just dependent on size.
Style, make and fabric used all play a part depending on your size, shape and preference, including cup shape, cup design, and specialist bras… below is a quick and easy guide. Enjoy shopping!
Cup Shape
• Unmoulded: no defined cup shape, made of thin material
• Contour: lightly padded to define breast shape
Cup Design
• Full Cup: covers the entire breast
• Demi Cup: covers half the breast
• Balconette: wide straps and low cut. Creates revealing cleavage.
• T-shirt: Unseamed over cup to give smooth line
• Soft Cup: No underwire
• Minimiser: Full cup to give light compression to make breasts appear smaller
• Sports: Close fitting, restricts movement of breast during exercise
• Maternity: adjustable over course of pregnancy
• Nursing: opens for easy access to nipple for suckling baby
• Mastectomy: double lined and designed to fit a prosthesis
• Post surgery: soft, unwired, and front opening
• Plunge: low centre front for wearing with low-cut tops
• Front Closure: easy front fastening and smooth back
• Adhesive: reusable or disposable, stick-on cups for smaller breast sizes
• Racerback: straps join at back near neck so shoulders are bare
• Convertible: straps adjust for various styles
• Bandeau: strapless bra
• Longline: Band sits lower on the torso
• Crop Top: No underwire, great coverage, very comfortable
• Body Shaping: shapes around the back
• Liquid Filled: push-up bra with gel padding
• Removable Padding: adjust level of push-up by adding or removing padding
• Underwire: metal, plastic or resin sewn under cups for added support
• Wire-free: banding only used for under-cup support
• None: no padding
• Light: small layer of padding
• Medium: lightly boosts cleavage with medium padding support
• Push-Up: large boost and support
• Ultra Push-Up: Look up to a cup size larger with high boost level
• Sheer: fully see-through
• Lace: all lace or with lace detail
• Printed: patterned
• Embroidered: Patterned with stitching
• Plain: basic without pattern or trim
• Low: everyday use
• Medium: Support Factor 2: SF2 = cycling, walking: reduce breast bounce by 45%
• High: SF3 = jogging, soccer, basketball: reduce breast bounce by 50%
• Extreme: SF4 = athletics, marathons: reduce breast bounce by 60%.

From the Corset to the Girdle – 1920-1950

From the Corset to the Girdle…

After the end of World War One, women became “emancipated” in life and also in their clothing. A very boyish figure for girls and women became fashionable, and girls who were thin and smaller-breasted needed to wear no corsetry at all. The majority of women, however, still needed to wear shaping undergarments, and corsetry at this time was designed to flatten the breast and give the torso a tubular shape.


Elastic was used in these corsets, but at that time it was very heavy, tough and stretched in only one direction. The garment was very tight and had steel supports built in. This newer type of corset was renamed the “girdle”. No lacing was required as the elastic gave a good fit. Hook fastening was used, though for more “traditional” ladies a front lacing option was available.


The all-in-one girdle became popular by the late 1920s, with women being encouraged by manufacturer Berlei to “fit foundations before frocks”. Very restrictive underwear was worn under sleek, tight fitting dresses. Suspenders were built into the girdle, and at this time still had heavy buckles which could often be seen under the line of the dress. The all in one girdle was heavily boned with spiral steel and often had a controlling underbelt as well. These garments were very uncomfortable to wear. Not only was their wear necessary for fashionable reasons, but they were considered necessary for morality.

Rubber began to be used as a girdle material in the 1930s. An all-rubber, perforated undergarment offered a little more flexibility (the perforations were to allow the body to sweat), but must have been very unpleasant to wear in hot weather. In cold weather, women had to be careful they not sit too close to their fireplaces lest the girdle melt.


These undergarments were functional and not made to look attractive. The early girdle was worn over panties and a slip – it was too uncomfortable to wear against the skin, and was so heavy as to be difficult to wash. Corsetry was still very heavily constructed in the 1930s, and most of these were available in either tea rose or salmon pink colours.

By 1939 the era of the boyish “Flapper” was over and Paris designers attempted to reintroduce a rounder figure with a waspish thin waist. The coming of World War 2 stopped the advance of this fashion trend due to material shortages and other concerns. Women repaired their clothing instead of buying new, and often went without a girdle at all, favouring a slip and panties alone.
After the war ended, Christian Dior revolutionised women’s fashion with his “New Look” in 1947: again the very feminine female form was celebrated, with wide shoulders, tiny waists, and very full skirts. Tight corsets were worn to achieve the tiny waist; these were usually very short, leaving the hips free. Tight lacing was again required to get this look; a conventional girdle was even worn underneath. As many were still recovering economically from the war, this was a fashion reserved for the wealthy few.


Made to measure corsets and girdles became popular and most department stores employed dedicated, specialist corset fitters…
Next week: Girdles in the 1950s and beyond…