Friday, February 24, 2012

Smaller Girls with Smaller Busts - a different fitting challenge

image from victoriassecret.com
I tend to talk a lot about thinner women with bigger busts in my blog, but smaller-framed women with smaller busts have unique fitting challenges all of their own. Although there are an number of companies out there who cater to women who are a 30F or a 28H (even if just online), there are markedly fewer who cater to women who have even smaller bands and/or smaller cups - sizes like 28C or 26DD. For one thing, most women in this latter category have had the notion pushed on them time and time again that they are tiny, that they have "tiny boobs," and that they couldn't be more than an A or B cup. So, unaware that there are other options, they struggle with bands and cups that are too big, a lack of support from bras, and the feeling that maybe bras just aren't for them.

I came across a Youtube video the other day by a petite woman (Jen from frmheadtotoe) who addresses some of these issues. It's a bit long, but the way she comes to realize that she doesn't have to be stuck just wearing the smallest size she can find at Victoria's Secret is really enlightening.

 

In the video, Jen talks about how she's always just worn 32A bras because those were the smallest ones she could find. However, she's always had problems like the band being too loose, the cups being too big, etc.

Now, the one thing she does that's a little off in the video is measuring above her bust instead of the proper way of measuring under it. Measuring over the bust (an incorrect method used by some stores) will give most people a measurement that is several inches too big for their band size. However, because her frame is small all around, she still manages to make the pretty revolutionary discovery that a 32 band is definitely too big for her and that bands below 32 do exist. She ends up finding that a 28B (from The Little Bra Company) is a much better fit than her previous too-big 32A. I would go a step further and say a 26C or even a 24D may work even better for her, depending on what her actual underbust measurement is (which the band measurement should be based off of).

Here's where many people get hung up, though. "C or a D??" you might gasp. "Why, there's no way she can be that big of a cup! A C cup is big! A D cup is HUGE!"

Hold up! Cup sizes are relative to band sizes. A cup letter means nothing without the band measurement attached to it - the letter just indicates the difference between the underbust and bust measurement. A 24D and a 38D are two very different sizes. A 24D bra is, approximately, for a woman who measures 24" under her ribcage, and her bust measurement is 4" larger than that. On the other hand, a 38D bra is made for a woman with a very different build, but the approximate same relative proportions - one who measures 38" under her ribcage and has a bust measurement that is 4" greater than her underbust measurement.

Thus, a 24D would actually be quite small, the cup on it being about equal in volume to a 26C, 28B, 30A, and 32AA (this is the principle of "sister sizing" - going up one cup size and down one band size each time to keep the same cup volume). The band measurement is what's important here. A "24D" means that a woman with a 24 inch ribcage has a bust that measures about 4 inches more than her ribcage. A "30A" means that a woman with a 30 inch ribcage has a bust that measures about 1 inch more than her ribcage. The cup volume is about the same on both these sizes, but the cup shape will be different (and the band will be very different).
Virtually all Victoria's Secret models should be wearing sub-30 bands, and yet VS doesn't sell any sub-30 bras (and very few in a 30 band), and their bras fit their models poorly (like this one) - talk about sending the wrong message!

The biggest problem for very small-framed girls? Besides Ewa Michalak, who will do them by custom order, there are no companies that currently make 24-band bras. 26-bands are starting to fare a little bit better; besides Ewa Michalak custom order, The Big Bra Bar is currently piloting a bra in a 26 band (in cup sizes DD, FF, G, GG, and H), and well-known brand Panache plans to offer a bra in a 26 band in March of next year (I would guess in cup sizes D-G). This is great news for girls who need a bra smaller than a 28 - and I gather that more companies will follow in Panache's footsteps and start offering 26 bands. Hopefully some will even start offering 24-band bras!

Koralik bra from Ewa Michalak
Still, even with a few more options, girls who are a 26-band and below a DD (or above an H, like Brittany from Thin and Curvy) cup, or girls who should wear a 24 band, are currently stuck with either the custom-order option or with altering larger bands down (which generally will distort the cups at least a little).

Another, possibly bigger, problem, though, is that most girls who are smaller with smaller busts don't know their options. They don't believe that they could be any cup size larger than an A, and they've never heard of a band size below a 32. Often a 32B, or whatever size they're wearing, is "good enough" for them, and they don't want to take the trouble to go find a 28D - which, to them, sounds like a crazy, nonexistent size that they couldn't possibly be (despite the fact that it's equal in cup volume to a 32B). They just aren't aware that there might be better options out there for them, or that a better-fitting bra will be more comfortable, make their boobs and clothes look better, and support them better (and inspire new confidence!).

If you've measured yourself and figured out that you're a size that is very difficult to find, do something about it! Most good bra companies will listen to customers and bloggers. The companies who are offering or planning to offer a bra in a 26 band are doing so because of the many women who requested/demanded the option.

If you've previously worn something like a 34A and found that you're probably more like a 28D, you're not weird! Remember, cup size is relative to band size, and (despite what the media says), a D cup isn't "huge" - actually, it's quite average, and all it really means is "about a 4 inch difference between ribcage and bust measurement." Cup sizes go up to L+, and with so many letters, it makes sense that many women will be above a D cup rather than under it.

Where to Find Bras for Small Frames:
28-30 A-C: The Little Bra Company (online or local) as well as other local boutiques (Nordstrom may have options for 30 bands); also check out the Guide to Online Bra Stores and Brittany's post on Resources for Small Busts
28 D+: see Guide to Online Bra Stores or check out boutiques in your area
26 DD+: Check out The Big Bra Bar's pilot 26-band bra, and anticipate more options from more companies in 2013!
24-26 bands: contact Ewa Michalak

Do you (or does someone you know) need a sub-28 band? There are more women who fit into this category than you might think - I am by no means a very tiny-framed person, yet my underbust still measures less than 28 inches and I generally wear a 28 band. There are many, many women who have smaller frames than I do - they need and deserve to have the right bra size too!

Edit: For further reading, check out denocte's story of how she realized she was a 30D rather than a 32A in her Fairy BraMother letter!

See also model Tess Dimos' brapiphany

14 comments:

  1. Great post! I think it's especially hard from small framed girls because they really get stuck into the A cup mentality (I have a few friends like this). I really liked denote's Fairy Bra Mother because of this: http://hourglassy.com/2012/02/fairy-bra-mother-to-smaller-busted-girl/ I wish some of my friends would read it. ;)

    Also, it'd be great if some more small framed women took my underbust survey so I have more statistics to send to companies. :) http://braslessinbrasil.blogspot.com/p/underbust-survey-please-read.html

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    1. I loved denote's letter too! Great read, especially for girls who are stuck in the "A cup mentality".

      I hope more smaller women see this and take the survey - I took it a little while back and am eager to hear about overall statistics!

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    2. Oooh I will definitely be taking that survey and posting it on my blog :)

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    3. Thanks a lot for linking to my letter!
      I'm happy to talk to anyone who needs advice on this subject, so the girls may just drop me an e-mail if they have any questions.

      Here's a list of what I think are great bras for below D cup that come at least in 30 bands or below.
      Since I myself don't need a band smaller than 28 my research for this group is very limited, but maybe the following tips help anyway.

      general rule:
      a lot of the smaller busts need broad wires but rather shallow cups. If you are one of those ladies (*hello* by the way ;) ) it's good if you stay away from plunges if you just begin searching for your size and your fit.
      Finding a nice fitting plunge for this type of breast (the german girls on busenfreundinnen.net call it the "breitbrust" which means kind of "broad breast", so you have your volume all spread over your chest and don't have those like "tiny apples" boobs) is a bit difficult, but with a bit of research and maybe try and error it can be done.

      And: stay away from fullcups. Since your breast tissues reaches very high on your chest, must fullcups and plunges will dig in it.
      Balcony bras and halfcups (vertical seams only!!) will be a great choice.

      That doesn't mean that fullcups never fit, they are just a lot harder to fit.

      some tips:

      * lepel (audelle) fiore halfcup and plunge

      * old cleo by panache models found on ebay.uk come in 30C and 28C

      * Scandinavian brand "Change" has got some nice bras in small sizes, don't know if they can be purchased in the US

      * BouxAvenue (they ship to countries other than UK if you ask nicely ;) ) start at 30, but some of their bands are really really tight. And they start at A. Some of their balconette styles are really nice on smaller busts.

      * for girls who want some extra boost try the young style from Panache "Atlantis". They don't do 28 bands and start at 30 (which is a really stupid thing, considering that they want to cater to young girls..) but produce AA-E cup only with different paddings. I didn't think they would be promising but after trying some styles on I'm really convinced that they are worth a try. They also do swimwear.

      * my personal brand to watch is "Only Her". It's a polish brand, they cooperate a lot with the polish community and the german community and until now they produced two halfcups (latte and espresso) and all new a plunge bra for smaller and medium bust (up to somewhere around cup FF).
      The bras are extremely comfortable and provide a very nice shape. We fit them on smaller busts a lot.
      The plunge is really new, it should be in my mail next week ;) but from what I've seen it's great on smaller breast too.
      Those models were developed with small breasts in mind, and they start at 60B!
      I've got reviews of those models on my blog.

      I know I'm talking about onlyher a lot, but it's just a really promising brand, the quality is nice and so are the prices. (about 35€ for a bra).


      And yes, there is always Ewa Michalak, but if you order custom made you can't return, which is always a bit of a risk :(
      But especially the PL and CH looks great on smaller breasts.


      wow, maybe I should put all this in a separate blog post instead of spamming your commentaries^^

      xoxo denocte

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    4. Wow, thanks so much for all the info! This is really informative! :)xx

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  2. I love this!! I recently fit my twin sister as a 28D/30C. She was in a 34A. :( Unfortunately she can not find her size in her area, so she makes due with a 32B. It's horrible that she cannot find her size, much less the fact that she feels like she is abnormal for ordering a 28D. Before my augmentation I should have been in a 26C and I had no actual breast tissue. I can't imagine what it would have been like in a properly fitted bra! Women with "small" breasts have no idea that these options are out there, much less that they could be something other than a A/AA cup.

    Great post!!

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    1. The worst thing is how there are so few options for so many of us, but particularly for very small framed/small busted women. A lot of times they don't realize how poorly their bras fit because they don't get the same pain that smaller framed/larger busted women do.

      I know I've occasionally seen 30C's at Nordstroms and Dillards, and I guess The Little Bra Company also has some actual stores, but I don't know if any of those are at all near you... Is your sister willing to order online at all?

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  3. This is a great post, Christine. I have a friend who has a small frame and a small bust and is currently wearing a 34A. Unfortunately I can't yet convince her to try anything else. I will keep trying, though!

    I especially love your advice for smaller busted women to tell bra companies to change. Just as women with smaller frames and larger breasts deserve bras that fit, so too do women with smaller frames and smaller breasts!

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    1. I think the two main problems that some of us face are 1)The belief that anyone small busted is an A cup, and 2) the lack of availability of other choices - you can't just go into a store, pick up a 30C and 28D, and tell her to try them on. 34As are very easy to find, while 28Ds are quite difficult (to the point of some people not knowing of their existence!). Trying to just explain about how band size works may help, since some people get really hung up on cup size!

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  4. What about bigger girls with smaller busts? I managed to find a 42C and didn't really have a choice because 42B doesn't exist.

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    1. Kaleena, you're right that really anybody who's above as well as below the 34-38 band range will have a hard time finding bras! Have you checked out sites like Figleaves.com and Bareneccesities.com? Good sites like these have bras in 42B as well as lots of other sizes not easily found in stores!

      (for a list of good online bra stores, see this post: http://boosaurusbras.blogspot.com/2012/01/bra-fitting-finding-bra-online.html)

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  5. Great post! I have a friend who is always boosting about her breasts and overshadowing others because she is a 32C or D and I am a 34 B and just found out that there isn't so much a difference because it is all about the band size.. I would really like to slap this post in her face so maybe she would shut up for once.

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    1. It's true, cup size is relative to band size... and a 34B is about equal in cup volume to a 32C, a 30D, and a 28DD (in fact, you might find that one of those sizes is a better fit for you if your ribcage measures less than 33"!). It could be that your friend is in the wrong size, too, so it might be helpful for her to measure herself (check out the Bra Fitting tab) and see!

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  6. I don't consider myself particularly big breasted- my general size is a 28F. I had previously worn ill-fitting 32C bras and I remember being super uncomfortable with them but stuck with them anyways because I thought that they were the only available option! Note that the +4 method would have given me 32B and I had enough common sense to know that that was WAY too small for me. The bras rode up in the back, even on the smallest hooks, and the cups sat low on my torso because of the large band + small cups so it didn't made me feel very supported and rather saggy. This really made me HATE wearing bras and I was constantly adjusting them! I am only 16 so due to my age and possibly size, I have rather firm breast tissue and full-on-bottom breasts so the signs of having too-small cups weren't very apparent to me. This means that although I had breast tissue outside of the cups, they weren't bulging and I didn't have the quadraboob effect. Images Victoria's Secret portrayed meant that it was 'proper' because all their models had "gorgeous", massive cleavage! I seriously remember hating my breasts because I never had the desired "kissing cleavage" like the models did, it made me ashamed of my breasts and made me think they were too small, so any thought of buying bigger cups were impossible. I loved your articles and really made me bring back memories, and you hit all the right points here. The factors I listed here are what I think are also why women who aren't particularly chesty avoid ever rethinking about smaller bands and bigger cups. Bad fit is not so apparent on smaller breasts and in our society, when it comes to cleavage more is definitely more! Thanks to blogs like yours, I am now confident with my breasts and body.

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