Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lovely Busties: A Bra Blogger List

As you may have noticed, I am a "list" person... I love making lists. You could say it's a hobby. So here's my latest list - a listing of a sampling of some of my favorite bra bloggers. They're all amazing women and do great things. :) Give them a read!

(Note that while I listed an approximate size for these bloggers, size generally varies between brands, and most bloggers have a range of sizes that they wear. For example, I generally say I'm a 28GG, but I'm veering more towards 28H lately, and I would probably ideally wear a 26HH in Freya and 26J in Curvy Kate if those sizes existed in those brands.)

Busts 4 Justice - 28GG/30G
Blogging powerhouse Beckie campaigns against boob injustice (M&S, Playtex) and advocates Justice for boobs everywhere with up-front bra news, reviews, and bra advice.

Bras I Hate - 28J
Bras I Hate, an American blogger in the UK, gives no-nonsense bra reviews (especially Bravissimo and Curvy Kate bras), tips on how to modify bras to fit your body better, and lots of bra advice in general!

Braless in Brasil - 28HH
Braless in Brasil details her journey though weight loss, changing sizes, and trying to find clothing and bras while living in a "bra desert".

Bras and Body Image - 28K/30JJ
Though she just started blogging, Anna already has detailed posts on a BiuBiu purchase and a recent Bravissimo visit, as well as the story of her own bra-journey.

Bra Nightmares - 38HH/40H
Bra Nightmares not only blogs in both Finnish and English about the struggles of finding "out of the norm" sizes, but is a frequent poster of bra sizing advice and explanations.

By Baby's Rules - 26HH/28H
Always candid, continually campaigning for smaller bands/larger cups, and advising other women like herself who have had augmentations, By Baby's Rules gives thoughtful and detailed bra reviews.

Curvy Kitten - 28GG/30G
Kelly Parks of Curvy Kate Star in a Bra fame gives us bra reviews, clothing reviews, and entering SIAB advice!

Curvy Wordy - 32K/34JJ
Though she sometimes has to resort to trying bras outside of her size range (38HH, for example), she exhibits a never-give-up attitude, openness, and great detail when reviewing bras that I find really refreshing.

Denocte - 30D
The amazing De.nocte has a bra blog where she posts in German (and translates to English), and a passion for helping women find bras that work for them (particularly smaller framed/busted).

Fuller Figure Fuller Bust - 36HH
The stunning Georgina gives us a plethora of no-holds-barred bra reviews, clothing reviews, store reviews, sizing explanations/advice, and guest posts!

Hourglassy - 34FF/G
Darlene from Hourglassy, who has her own line of buttoned shirts for busty women, gives us tailoring/bra/clothing advice, bra news, and lots more!

Invest in your Chest - 28FF, 30G
Cheryl, along with fellow blogger Becky, offers us this blog chock-full of reviews, collection previews, bra fitting and wearing advice, news, and more!

Miss Underpinnings - 28GG/30G
Awesome bra reviews and fashion advice from a bra fitter!

Sophia Jenner - 30GG/32G
Not only does the beautiful Sophia give us bra reviews, she posts on a variety of related topics (such as bra sizes in the media and society) as well.

Thin and Curvy - 26HH
Reviewing bras and clothing, raising awareness and advocating for smaller band sizes, explaining how bra sizes work - Brittany does it all!

Undercover Lingerista - 28FF
The lovely Kitty gives us bra, swimwear, and clothing reviews, is a 28-band advocate, and doesn't shy away from trying bras even if they don't come in her exact size. Thus, she'll often also review bras in the 30F-FF range as well.

Undressed to Impress - 26G/GG
Despite being a fairly new blogger, Laura already has a lot of great detailed bra and clothing reviews.

Venusian Glow - 28DD
EternalVoyageur not only blogs in great detail about the way bras work and how they should fit, but she also has varied posts on fashion, natural health, cosmetics, and beauty!

Do you have trouble finding any bra/fashion bloggers close to your size? If you struggle with finding your bra size and don't have a blog, have you thought about starting one?

[Also, take a look at the Blogroll page for even more bra and fashion bloggers!]

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

Name Change

Quick message to followers:

As I noticed that the spelling of my blog was a bit confusing for people, I decided to modify the name from Boosauraus to Boosaurus (I know, big difference, right?). Also, the new blog address is boosaurusbras.blogspot.com.

You may want to change any links you have to the blog, just fyi. Sorry for the confusion/inconvenience!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bra Fitting: Five Signs of a Poor Fit

You may have measured yourself to figure out an approximate correct size, but how do you know if a bra you're trying on (or the one you're wearing now) is a good fit? If you notice one or more of these five common signs of a poor fit, then it's time to try a different size!


1. The straps are digging into your shoulders, leaving grooves and marks.
Most of the support that the bra gives should be from the band of the bra - very little weight should be on the shoulders. Straps digging in to your shoulders indicate that too much weight is being placed there. This can cause discomfort, pain, slouching, and marks/shoulder grooves (that can even become permanent)!


Solution:
If you have straps digging in and leaving marks, this probably indicates that the band of the bra isn't tight enough to give support. Go down a band size (and up a cup size for each band size) until the band is firm and supportive and you can just fit two fingers under it.

2. The wires are sitting on breast tissue.
The wires should fully encase the breast tissue on all sides of the bra. Wires sitting on breast tissue will lead to shifting, much readjusting, an ill-fitting look, pain, unwanted re-distribution of breast tissue, and all sorts of other problems!

Here the wires aren't going far back enough to encase all of the breast tissue - the wire would have to extend back to about the blue line to do so. There's some spillage going on in front, and the front wire is also sitting on the breast rather than fully encasing it and resting against the sternum.

The wires of this bra are very obviously sitting on top of the breasts and not against the ribcage at all. There's a lot of bulging out of the cup happening under the armpits. If we could see the side of the bra, the wire would most likely be sitting on the breast tissue there as well. The cups are much too small for this model - if the front wires were sitting under the breasts as they should be, about half of the breast tissue would be bulging out the top of the cups!

Solution:
If wires are sitting on your breasts, go up as many cup sizes as needed in order get the wires sitting comfortably against your ribcage and have the breast tissue fully encased.

3. The center gore of the bra isn't firm against your sternum (or isn't touching at all)
Relating to #2 - a center gore that doesn't sit comfortably against your sternum (you shouldn't be able to fit fingers under it) indicates too-small cups and probably a too-large band.

In the picture, you can see that not only is the center gore pushed far away from the sternum because of the too-small cups, the model's breast tissue is spilling out under the armpit, too! (Here's yet another example *tsks at Playtex*)

Solution: 
Go up in cup size (and down in back size if necessary) until the center gore sits completely against the sternum and no wires are resting on any breast tissue.

4. The band is riding up in the back (or is sitting too low)
This is one of the most common problems women have - a too-big band and too-small cups. The band riding up in the back (or sitting too low on the back) indicates that the breasts are not supported by the bra - the bra is functioning more like a sling rather than giving firm support for the breasts. The band of a new bra should be sitting straight and firm across the back on the loosest hook.
Other indicators of a too-big band are if you can fit more than a couple of fingers under it, or if you're always having to hook the bra on the tightest hook.

 The band here is riding up (rather than being firm and straight across the back), and it's also on the tightest hook - both strong indicators of a too-large band.

The band here is sitting too low - the top of the band should be up about where the red line is instead.

Solution: 
Go down in back size (and up a cup size each time) until the band sits firmly across your back. You may find need to go up additional cup sizes as well at the end, as it's difficult to see how well the cups are fitting if the band is much too large. For example, when I got properly fitted for the first time, I went from a 36DD to a 30G (a 36DD cup volume is roughly equal to 34E, 32F, and 30FF, so I went up an additional cup size once the band size was correct).

5. Your boobs are bulging out of the cups, creating the "quad-boob" (or four-boob) effect.
This may also mean that the wires are sitting on breast tissue (see #2). Boobs bulging out of the top of the cup indicate that the cup is too small. There's nothing wrong with some cleavage, but it should be a smooth line that the bra creates, not bulging.

It's a bit hard to see (most likely due to Photoshop smoothing), but you can still tell that the breasts are bulging out of the cups, which are cutting into the breasts.

Solution: 
Go up in cup size until you no longer get bulging out of the bra.


Got questions about proper fit? I'd love to hear them!

(Note: You'll notice that many of these examples are either Playtex or Victoria's Secret models/bras. It irks me to no end that neither of these two companies can even fit their models correctly!)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Enell, You Make Me Feel Supported

This is the story of the second sports bra that I've ever owned in my life.

But, you say, you've always been a fairly athletic girl, right? What is this "only ever owned two sports bras" nonsense?

Ah, my friends, the tale of the first sports bra is indeed one of woe, the centerpiece of the tale being a stretchy "36D" sports bra that I acquired at around age 15. Alas, it offered but little support and did nothing but grant me the gift of uniboob, and I gave up hope of ever finding a sports bra that would offer me any support.

However, (thankfully) the story does not end there. In somewhat more recent history (after discovering correct bra sizing), I decided to venture once more into the somewhat enigmatic world of sports bras, and I acquired a very slightly used Enell sports bra. My verdict and some notes, based off a few years worth of testing, are as follows:

Looks
-The bra is wire free, and it's front-closure by means of 11 hooks. I found this to be rather a pain at first, until I noticed that the instructions on the website recommend hooking it from the bottom up, adjusting as you go. Much easier this way, trust me. However, it isn't a bra that you'll be able to just throw on in a matter of mere seconds. I do think it's nice not having to hook it around the back (like most sports bras) or wrestle on a bra with no hooks, however.

-This is not a "small" or "cute" bra - it's almost like a small vest - and if you wear any sort of tank top, the bra will probably peek out of your shirt. This isn't too big of a deal for me, however. Also, there are seams in the front of the bra that will show up under most, if not all, fabrics. Again, this doesn't bother me too much, but it's something to be aware of. The shape it gives is a rather compact/flattened shape, but I didn't find it too extremely "one-boob", and I appreciated that it didn't give a weird pointy look (Freya Active, I'm looking at you).



Sizing
-Enell uses its own sizing system for the bra (from sizes 00-8) rather than using regular bra sizes, a big plus for me as I'm sized out of many sports bras anyway. There is a handy size chart on Enell's website that lets you estimate what size to get (go off your measurements, not the listed bra sizes). Not everyone will fit exactly into one size - for example, according to the chart, I would be a 00 based on my underbust and a 0 or 1 based on my bust. The bra I own is actually a size 1, and I find that it's still supportive enough, although it looks slightly loose in some areas on me (on the sides and a little on the straps). Overall, it seems that getting a size that's "close enough" will still work for the most part.
A note - the website does say that they do custom orders, which I would probably have to do if I wanted one that fit perfectly.

-Like most good sports bras, the Enell feels quite tight in the band, especially at first. If you're not sure what size to get because you're between band sizes, I would go with the larger one, but the tightness may just take some getting used to.

Comfort/Support
-After getting used to the bra, I found that I was able to wear the bra around for the rest of the day without feeling like I had to immediately change into something more comfortable. (Bonus: it makes my bust smaller by about 2 inches, so I fit into shirts better! :P) This may be because it's slightly big for me, so I don't know if this would be as much the case if I was wearing a size smaller. I'm not saying it's an everyday bra, but it's not a "wear it only as long as you absolutely have to" bra either.

-The bra makes me feel very supported. The main thing I've ended up wearing it for has been Zumba classes (dance aerobics), and the difference between wearing the Enell vs. any other regular bra or old sports bra has been incredible. All that dancing and jumping is seriously so much more comfortable when you're wearing a great supportive bra.

End verdict? I appreciate Enell's sizing system (based on measurements) and the availability of custom-sized bras. Even in a slightly incorrect size, I found it supportive enough and pretty comfortable. If you haven't yet found a sports bra that works for you, then Enell is definitely worth a try.

Since this is the only sports bra I've had that really works, I'm always curious about others' experiences with them. What are your feelings on sports bras? Has anyone tried out the offerings of Panache or Freya, or the much-praised Shock Absorber?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Two Pictures

The other day, a friend on Facebook posted two pictures.

The first was of a tall, slender, model-esque girl, stretched up in a ballerina-like pose that made her look even thinner and taller. The friend introduced the picture with a "She is beautiful." But the commenters weren't so kind. Throughout the 60+ comments were scattered phrases like "I don't know about that one," "Eewww!" "Looks [photo]shopped," "Too skinny," "Bones sticking out," "She looks like... she'd blow away, haha," "Alien," "Where do her guts fit in there?"



The second picture was also introduced with a "she is beautiful" by my (male) friend. This one was two images of a larger women, model Tara Lynn, who carries weight in her thighs and hips. She has a body type that the media and fashion industry like to call "curvy" (a misnomer to me, as I've observed that most women have curves, and many women are both slender and curvy). The comments on this picture veered far away from name-calling and derision. "I love healthy girls," "Beautiful," "Gorgeous," "I love her," "Nice curves" were the words applied to this second woman.



These two pictures provided me with some food for thought.Why the overall difference in reaction to the two women?

Is it because some women feel threatened by thinner women that they feel like it's okay to deride them? Do they fear that they are being held to some standard that they can never achieve when someone posts a picture of a naturally thin, fit women? Or, perhaps, are their cruel comments out some kind of twisted concern for thinner women? Do they think by insulting one thin, fit, and (presumably) healthy woman, they will solve the problems of other women who struggle with eating disorders?

Why is it okay to call women gross, alien, photoshopped, fake?

Why is it okay to assume one woman is healthy and the other not based simply on appearance?

The first woman will never look like the second, no matter how much she eats. The second woman will never look like the first, no matter how little she eats. Their bodies are just made differently. Neither is "wrong." Neither is "right." I think both are beautiful.

Maybe this hits closer to me because I have been called many of the above things. I have been accused of having fake boobs because I am naturally busty. I have been told I should be a porn star because of my "assets." I have been called "too skinny" countless times because I have a naturally thin waist. People, especially other women, seem to often think that it's somehow okay to form judgments on others based solely on appearance.

I have never thought it was okay to comment on the bodies of others, except for a casual compliment here or there.

What would such commenting look like?
"You have such big thighs. Shouldn't you work out?"
"Wow, your boobs are really small. You're obviously not as womanly as I am."
"You're too fat. You should eat less."
"You're so scrawny. How do your internal organs fit in there?"
"Your butt is really big. You should be a porn star."

Incredibly rude, right? I would never say such things. Yet people, friends, have said similar things to me about  my body. You're too skinny, you should eat more. Your boobs are really big, you should be in porn.
Why is this somehow "okay"?


What do you think the reactions to the pictures are based on?
Have you ever been "body shamed"? Have you ever realized that you've judged others based on appearance alone?