Monday, May 21, 2012

Curvy Kate: Criss Cross, Princess, Emily, and Angel

Since my size has changed as of late, I've been buying a bunch of gently-used, cheap bras from some friends/fellow bra-lovers in order to help determine my exact size in different brands. I recommend this "buy a bunch of cheap bras in a small range of sizes" method (from ebay, Bratabase, friends, online communities, etc) if you've changed sizes or are trying to determine your size - it's cost effective and you get to try on a much greater variety of bras than you would if you had to buy new! I now have several bras that fit me (and quite a few to re-home!) and have learned a lot about how different brands and particular bras fit.

You might remember that I didn't have the greatest luck the first time I tried Curvy Kate bras (especially since I was still trying to fit into 28GG's). Armed with a better idea of my current starting size, here's the Curvy Kate bras I tried out these most recent rounds:

Criss Cross: 28H (pink) and 28HH (Blue and Purple)


This bra isn't perfect for me, but I LOVE the colors and feel of the fabric, so I think I'll probably be keeping at least two of these anyway. The bands on both these sizes are too big/stretchy for me, but not unwearably so (they do ride up a bit in the back). The 28H cups are as little too small (the wire looks fine on the side, but I get a bit of overspill in the tops of the cup); however, the 28HH cups are too big - but in a "the wires stretch too far under the armpits" rather than a "wrinkly in the top part of the cups" kind of way. If only going up a cup size in this bra meant more "forward" space rather than wider wires! Oddly, the cups of the purple bra seem to be bigger/wider than the blue one, so I may keep the blue and not the purple (though I love the color!).
I don't think I'll go out of my way to buy this particular bra again since it doesn't suit me that well, though I would recommend it to others - maybe it would suit someone who needs wider wires/a bit shallower cups.

Princess: 28H (red) and 28HH (blue)


The Princess has seemed to be the best-fitting CK bra for me that I've tried so far. While the 28H is wearable, it's small in the cup for me (the top cuts in). The 28HH is much better, although the wires are a little on the wide side and the top cuts in very slightly. I'd even look into trying out the 28J if I came across it - a good rule-of-thumb when trying on a bra style is to keep going up in cup size until it's obviously too big.

Emily: 28H

The band in the Emily was very tight for me (I had trouble getting it on, and tried it out with an extender as well), and even then I could tell that the cups were too large - but this time, in more of a "looseness in the front/top of the cups" rather than a too-wide wires way. I could deal with the tightness of the bra by wearing an extender until it loosened a bit, but the wrinkling in the cups makes this a bra I'll probably forgo to keep.

Angel: 28HH, center gore taken in


When I tried the Angel before in a 28GG, I felt that the cups were too small, but I really didn't like the spread-out look I got (and it made it harder to tell what the true fit was for me). This 28HH bra, on the other hand, has been altered to have the center gore brought in, giving the bra a much better shape for me!
However, bringing the center gore in will often make the cups of a bra bigger/roomier, and the cups on this 28HH are thus too big for me. I'm definitely willing try this bra again in a 28H (or even a 28GG) with the gore brought in, though.
(I'm also interested in trying the Portia bra again - probably in a 28HH-J since the 28GG was so ridiculously small.)

Conclusions:
So, when comparing just 4 (similar-looking) bras within one brand and in the same 1-2 sizes: One has a band that's too big/wires too wide, one fits well in the larger of my two sizes, one has a band that's too tight, and one would fit in a smaller size with the center gore brought in!

There's some "in general" principles and facts that can be taken from this (that the Emily runs larger in the cup than the Princess, for example, and the band of the CrissCross runs stretchy/large), but just because I found the bands tight or loose in some of these, or the wires wide, doesn't mean that everyone else will for their particular body/breast shape.Bratabase is a great resource for checking out what other women have to say about the fit of different bras. For example, these entries have comparisons of lots of different Curvy Kate bras (for the same user). However, the only true way to tell if a bra will work for you is to try it on for yourself!

Have you found that you need to wear different sizes within the same brand (or even in different colors of the same bra)? How do you deal with a size change/figuring out your size if you can't shop for bras in stores?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Star in a Bra: Cast your votes!

Have you heard about Curvy Kate's Star in a Bra competition yet? It's been held for women in the UK for the past several years (the UK competition for this year recently ended), but this year, there's a U.S. competition for the first time!

It's down to the final week of voting for the Top 30 - and the 10 girls with the most votes will go on to compete for the opportunity to be the new Star in a Bra and be able to model/be an ambassador for Curvy Kate in the US! Since Curvy Kate has such a great range of sizes available (D-K cups, 28-40 bands), I think it's really important that the winner - who will have an amazing opportunity to spread bra-knowledge in the US - is a girl who is passionate about proper bra fitting!

You can cast your vote for 3 different girls in this round of voting, and two of my votes have gone to two amazing women (who also happen to be bloggers)!

The first is Brittany from Thin and Curvy. Brittany has been blogging for a few years now, and is passionate about helping girls find the correct fit, spreading bra knowledge, and campaigning for more options in 28-and-under bands! She would be an awesome ambassador (and model!) for Curvy Kate.

Want to vote for Brittany? Click here!


Another of my votes goes to Cristyen of Red Hair and Girly Flair. She's newer to the world of bra fitting and blogging than many, but every bit as passionate. She would also make an amazing model/ambassador!

 Cast a vote for Criss here!


While you're at it, check out the interviews of the Top 30 on the Curvy Kate Blog! And, if you're interested, you can find a wide variety of Curvy Kate bras at discounted prices on Brastop.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Bra Band Project Goes Public!


I'm excited to announce that we've released The Bra Band Project on Flickr today!


Check out what the other members of the team (By Baby's Rules, Braless in Brasil, StackDD+, and Bras I Hate) have to say about the project! We hope that the results are eye-opening, not just to companies, but to women and girls who have never been able to see real-life examples of small bands. We believe the project really helps illustrate that 30 and under bands aren't just for tiny, "junior" girls, as many stores and even bra companies would have the public believe.


You'll notice on Flickr that the photos are divided up into three sets - 30 Bands, 28 Bands, and 26 & Under Bands. You also may notice that the sets start at DD+ cups - but if you're below a DD cup and participated (or want to participate), never fear! We've decided to focus on the DD+ ("full-bust") portion of the project since that's our area of expertise, but we've turned over the under-DD portion to Amanda from 32aabra, so look for a D & Under set in the near future!

Want to contribute to the project? We'd love it if you did! You can read more about it and use the submission form in this post, or you can email your photo and bra size directly to brabandproject@gmail.com (for DD+ cups) or info@32aabra.com (for D and under cups).

If you submitted a picture and don't see it in the Flickr album:
-We may never have gotten an email with your photo in it
-You may have linked us to a photo on a site that doesn't have public access (i.e. a private Facebook album or a site that requires a login).
-We may not be able to use the picture because it violates a privacy concern (i.e. the photo is of someone under 18 or has another person in it that cannot easily be cropped out), or
-You submitted an under-DD cup photo, which will be released at a later date!

Please feel free to email us again at brabandproject@gmail.com with your bra size and a valid picture if yours didn't go through the first time for some reason! (And, as always, feel free to comment or email with any questions!)

Also, follow The Bra Band Project on Facebook for updates and news!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bra Shopping: Why I still don't love it

(I wrote this a while back and then debated about posting it - it felt too much like a rant. But after rereading it and seeing a recent post on The Lingerie Addict along the same lines, I do feel like it has a point to it and might spark some thoughts/discussion...)

When I was a teen, I loathed bra shopping. Desperately. Passionately. Nothing seemed to fit me right - and no wonder, as I was squeezing myself into ill-fitting and painful 36DD soft-cup and sports bras.

Now that I'm wearing the correct size, I don't have the same passionate hatred and fear of the bra department that I once did. I do feel more empowered because I know what I'm looking for and not just blindly trying to figure things out. I also do feel that there are more options in general now than there were even a few years ago. And, yes, I can now even say that I love bras!

But does this mean that I love actually going bra shopping now? Sadly, not really. And there are a several reasons why.

I haven't yet found a store in the U.S. that carries my size.
I'm sure that bra stores that carry 28H-HH bras exist somewhere in the US, but unfortunately, I've never had the pleasure of shopping at one. The best I can do in stores is look for sister sizes to try on to see if I can get something close so I can either alter it or order the correct size online. But even the sister sizes of 28H/HH (30GG/H) can be difficult to locate.

When I do go into a store to check it out and try on bras that are at least close to my size, nearly every bra fitter has tried to convince me that I am a size that they carry rather than the size I actually am.
Fitters, please - admit when you don't carry the size that your customer needs, especially if the customer is able to tell you what size she is and that she knows you don't carry it! If I knew nothing about bra fitting and left it in the hands of fitters from Victoria's Secret, Nordstrom, or even most bra boutiques, I would be miserably squished into sizes like 32DDD, 36DD, 32FF, 30G - or worse. Nordstrom fitters still invariably bring me 32 bands and try to put me into 30G's, and they don't seem to realize that the bras are ill-fitting until I point it out (this happened just last week). I generally have to be very insistent to even get 30 bands and above a G cup to try on.

I've yet to have a truly great experience with a fitter.
The closest experience I've had to a great bra shopping experience was at a Bravissimo in the UK last year - but even then, the fitters seemed a bit rushed and, frankly, I didn't feel that the store lived up to my high expectations. I was pleased that they didn't insult me or get "weirded out" by my "strange" size (as happens often in the US). But they could've been friendlier; they could've told me what my options were instead of agreeing with me that certain bras didn't fit and then moving on without giving me other options or suggestions. I left one Bravissimo store in tears because I wasn't able to find a bra that worked for me; the next store was a bit better as I found one bra after over an hour of trying on bras (mostly left to my own devices).
In regards to the US, while I've had nice and personable and even understanding fitters before, the vast majority of them have bullied me into trying on (and even buying) sizes that I know won't work for me, made comments on how I was wrong (about my size or about the fit of a bra), and even insulted my body/breast type. I'm a fairly quiet person, but I'm by no means painfully shy or adverse to being helped in fitting rooms. But I also hate feeling rushed and pressured to buy something, and I'm not keen on being insulted.

I often feel like I know more than the fitters.
I frequently come across fitters (even in "good" stores) who don't know that certain bras run big or small, don't know what size range certain bras or brands come in, don't understand how sizing works (US vs UK, or larger cup sizes in general), and even don't know that bras in a 30 or 28 band exist. In my mind, this is fairly inexcusable for any fitter who is at all educated in bras.

In short, I wish bra shopping could be a fun and enjoyable experience for me. But in more cases than not, I've ended up being mocked, insulted, pressured, ignored, and ill-fitted. There have been the handful of decent and even pleasant experiences, sure, but more often than not I leave a bra store feeling discouraged and embarrassed. Shopping for bras online is definitely easier and less painful in more ways than one (I can actually find my size without being insulted about it!).

Now, I truly understand that my bra size is fairly uncommon and thus will be carried in few stores. I don't mind (and even enjoy) going to bra stores/departments and just looking at bras close to my size, learning about what bras and styles are available, and perhaps trying on a few in my sister sizes. What I do take issue with is those fitters who spread misinformation about how bras are supposed to fit, are unaware of what sizes exist, insult me and other customers, and pressure me and others into buying ill-fitting bras. And believe me, I would not be complaining if these were isolated incidences. At least one of these things happens to me nearly every time I set foot in a bra department or store. (But yet I still keep going back... I guess I either really love bras or I'm a glutton for punishment! :P)

What have your experiences with in-store bra shopping been like? Is bra shopping something you enjoy doing?