Monday, July 30, 2012

On Bras, Posture, and Health

The other day, I was rereading The Butterfly Collection's great post about posture and correct bra fitting. SO much of this article really hit home for me - 

"Besides potentially giving you physical pain, bad posture can affect the way your bra fits you (even a correctly sized bra) and consequently, how you feel about your shape."

"The most common posture issue for busty women is hunched shoulders and this is the direct result of physically hiding your breasts. You see it all the time; huddles of teenage girls with rounded shoulders and folded arms."

I've already written in the past about why it's important to wear the correct bra size, but I thought I'd share a little more of my personal story (along with some examples) to sort of give a better idea of why I'm so passionate about correct fit.

Before I found my correct size, not only was I wearing uncomfortable, unsupportive bras, but I was embarrassed and ashamed of my body. I was constantly assuming a "defensive" pose (arms crossed over chest), wearing jackets and layers, and - perhaps worst of all - hunching my shoulders and overall carrying a very bad posture. All these things combined to give me back and shoulder pain.

I dug through some old photos and found a few typical examples from several years ago when I was wearing 36DD bras - soon before I started my correctly-sized-bra-journey - of what I mean:

Too-big clothing, too-small clothing, unsupportive bras, hunched shoulders, and jackets galore! Rather than minimizing my bust, all these measures just made me look unsupported and heavier than I actually was.

Contrast the above photos with a few more recent pictures, taken while wearing a bra in the correct size (28GG-28H, depending on the date) along with more flattering clothing and better posture:

The shape in these photos is much more flattering - not just because my boobs are actually supported, but because I'm able to stand straight! No hunching of the back or shoulders!

Keeping a good posture is something I actually still struggle with, even though it's been a few years since I've started wearing better bras. I still need to remind myself to stand straight and keep my shoulders back. Old habits and fears die hard; it's a process, to be sure. But I'm in a much better place now than I was back when I was wearing bras that made it pretty much impossible for me to have a correct, healthy posture.

So, what's my point in this brief post? Wearing a bra that fits well really matters. Not just in terms of looks (although it will help your clothes fit better and give you a better shape), but in terms of your health, posture, and even emotional well-being. It did for me!

For some more great reading from The Butterfly Collection, check out Breaking the D Cup Barrier and Breaking the 34 Band Barrier.

Interested in seeing more bra-size transformations? Take a look at the before and after photos of the U.S. Star in a Bra winners! Fuller Figure Fuller Bust also recently put together a great post illustrating Ill fitted bras vs Well fitted bras.

Not sure you're wearing the correct size? Try out a good bra calculator (or five), or get a free sizing consultation!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

BiuBiu Review: Emerald and Prado Verde tops

With my recent success with Urkye, I was eager to finally try out BiuBiu, another Polish, bust-friendly clothing company that's well-known in the bra blogging world. When I saw that there was free shipping to the U.S. on July 4th, I jumped at the chance and grabbed two tops that were on sale. I received the package just about 2 weeks after ordering.

Now, first off, I noticed that the two shirts I ordered were made from a different material than that of the clothing I have from Urkye. These BiuBiu shirts are made of a 95% Viscose/5% Spandex blend. The lightness and stretchiness is nice, but to be honest, the smell and feel reminds me of a swimsuit. Not exactly preferable to me, but obviously everyone has different materials that they'll prefer [note: the smell faded quickly - I'm just very sensitive to smells/scents :B]. On to the reviews! 

The first top I chose was the Emerald in 36BB/BBB.

BiuBiu Emerald; model wearing a 36B/BB
The shirt wasn't a bad shape on me, and looked very similar on the model as it did on me. Honestly, though, it wasn't my absolute favorite. The color is quite a bit greener than shows in pictures - not a bad thing, but I think it's easier for me to wear blue in terms of finding things to pair with it. I also felt like the bust seemed a little small on me. Or maybe it was just that the black lines on the side gave the illusion that the fabric was straining more than it should?

BiuBiu Emerald, 36BB/BBB
I think I'll keep the shirt, and the fit is good enough, but it doesn't seem as versatile of a shirt as I was hoping, and not necessarily "me".
[ETA - Okay, I wanted to add that after throwing on this shirt with a pair of khakis for an interview, I have to say that it really did end up working well for me. Actually, I'm kind of more in love with it now. The only slight issue I still have is that it seems just a tad small in the bust for me... but it's definitely a near-perfect fit. It's great to have your mind changed sometimes!]

The second shirt I picked out was the Prado Verde, also in 36BB/BBB.

BiuBiu Prado Verde; model wearing a  36B/BB

I loved the print of this shirt, so I snatched it up. Unfortunately, I failed to notice that the bust seam hits at a rather strange point - it sits on the bust rather than underneath it. I feel this gives the illusion that the bust part of the shirt is too small for me (it looks like the seam should be sitting under the bust, but isn't). I already get this "too-small-in-the-bust" look on shirts that I can buy at any department store, so I wasn't too happy that I had missed seeing that for this top. 

BiuBiu Prado Verde 36BB/BBB

Also, the shirt makes me look pretty boxy from the front and back, and makes my shoulders look even broader. This is just a case of the shirt not suiting my body type, I think. :/ 

I really wanted to like this shirt because of the print and because it was really quite comfortable and light-feeling (despite the swimsuit smell). A friend suggested pairing it with a long skirt and belt rather than shorts, so I cobbled together something from my closet for a comparison: 

A bit better, but the shirt gave a pretty boxy look from the front still, and I feel I shouldn't have to wear a belt with a shirt that's supposed to be tailored to a busty body type anyway. I'm fairly sure this one's going to be passed on or returned.

So, concluding thoughts? With all the great things I've heard and seen about BiuBiu, I wasn't as impressed with these two shirts that I chose. They just didn't seem quite as bust-friendly as I was expecting them to be. I also wish I'd been a little more careful and thorough when I chose the tops, but then again, I didn't see a whole lot that really jumped out at me on the site that was stocked in my size.

I do want to add that I am by no means bashing or dismissing BiuBiu. They've really pioneered an awesome site and clothing line for bustier women like me. Their clothing is very affordable, even considering the cost of shipping from Poland. There are quite a range of shapes and patterns available. And I've seen other women wearing their stuff, and it looks amazing on them. So, I do plan to try BiuBiu again sometime in the near future - and I'll cross my fingers that I make better picks!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Urkye Review: Groszki Latte and Kontrast w fuksji

We're down to the final two items in my recent Urkye order! This time, I have some comparisons for you. New blogger Muscular Hourglass and I recently discovered that we have very similar measurements, and thus will generally wear very similar clothing sizes. M.H. had made an Urkye order just before I did, and I based some of the sizes I ordered off of her experiences. Because of this, we thought it would be helpful to show comparisons of how the same or similar sizes worked on both of us.

Some information for comparison:
M.H. is 5'3 with a waist measurement of about 28" and a bust measurement of about 38", a hip measurement of 38" and an "upper hip" measurement in the 33-34" range. Her underbust measurement is 29" and she currently can wear a 30G Freya Deco bra on the tightest hook.

I am 5'4 with a waist measurement of about 27-28" and a bust measurement of about 37", a hip measurement of about 36-37" and an "upper hip" measurement in the 33-34" range. My underbust measures about 27" and I currently can wear a 30GG Freya Deco bra with the band altered way down (usual bra size 28H/HH).

M.H. would describe her body type as having a torso on the shorter side of average, short-waisted, narrow but muscular shoulders, and fairly high hip bones. Her upper arms are a bit larger than most women's due to weight training, and her arms are shorter relative to her torso. She feels she is more sharply curved due to a fairly pronounced bottom. She considers herself an hourglass figure.

I would describe my body type as having a short torso and waist, wide-shouldered, and high-hipped. I have a sharp rather than smooth curve to my back, but it's my lower hips that are pronounced rather than my actual bum. My measurements indicate that I'm an hourglass figure, but I feel that I look more "triangular".

With that said, the first shirt we both tried is the Kontrast in fuchsia in a size 36ooo. (This is actually the exact same shirt on both of us; M.H. decided that she didn't care too much for the look the poofy sleeves gave her, so I decided to buy it from her and give it a go.)

M.H. in 36ooo Kontrast

Me in the 36ooo Kontrast

You can see from the above pictures that, although M.H. and I have very similar measurements and even would describe our body types in very similar ways, the exact same shirt looks fairly different on us! Just from what the pictures show, I think you can see that M.H. has more prominent hips, I have a more prominent bust, and M.H's back has a somewhat lower curve than mine. I'll leave it to those who are more knowledgeable about body types and clothing to draw other conclusions about waist length, etc! [also, note that in neither picture is the shirt ironed, so it has some creases that it wouldn't have if properly pressed]

Comparisons aside, I was a little unsure about this shirt at first. The color is bold and the sleeves are poofy, and I'm generally not one for either! However, after a little while of wearing it around, I found that the sleeves "de-poofed" a bit (my pushing them down probably helped) and thus looked less Munchkin-of-Oz on me. I also made sure to leave the top several buttons undone to help maintain a v-neck look.

I also thought at first that the shirt felt too short, but then I realized that this was because all of the button-down shirts I currently have (not many) are VERY long on me (as in, past my butt) since I have to get them in a very large size just so I can button them over my bust! The Kontrast is actually what a shirt length should be on me. And I don't have to strain at all to button it up! And it's actually flattering! After getting used to what it's like to wear a proper button-down shirt for what might be the very first time in my life, I think I'm starting to fall in love a little bit... or maybe even a lot.
It *is* long enough! Woohoo!

The second shirt we both tried was the Groszki in latte. In this case, M.H. had said that the 36oo/ooo was a little large on her, so I decided to go for the next size down, 36o/oo.

M.H. in the 36oo/ooo Groszki
Me in the 36o/oo Groszki
It seems that both sizes could probably have worked for either of us; I felt that the o/oo was perhaps just a touch too small (but certainly wearable), and M.H. felt the oo/ooo was a little big (but still wearable). It just depends on how close-fitting you want the shirt to be!

A comparison of the back of the shirt on both of us:

Left - M.H. in 36oo/ooo; Right - Me in 36o/oo

You can also see that I don't get the same back wrinkles in the Groszki that I got with the Francuski shirt and the Kieska dress. The fabric here is much thinner than either of those two pieces, and feels light, smooth, and very comfortable. I could wear it all day every day if I wasn't afraid of spilling things on it! I feel like I want to own this shirt in every color of the rainbow, it's seriously that comfortable. (It comes in black, too, but I currently have a self-imposed ban of buying black clothing, as about 3/4 of my wardrobe is black right now :P)

I did feel that the v-neck hit sort of a strange point, but it might just be a style issue that I'm not used to. The fabric of the v-neck sits snug against the skin and sits a little higher than where the top of the bra cup ends. It leads me to conclude that this isn't really a "cleavagey" v-neck, which is a good thing as usually I have to layer v-necks to remain halfway decent. :B


So, a brief conclusion: My experience so far with Urkye has been very good. The clothing is well-constructed, comfortable, and of course well-fitting! It's even made me learn several things about my body type and how clothes should fit. Realizing that I've never really had clothing that fits really well has made me want to re-vamp my whole (mostly ill-fitting) wardrobe! I'm looking forward to making more orders in the near future, and hopefully reading more reviews as more bloggers get a chance to try them out.

Comments? Questions? Insight? I'd love to hear what you think about Urkye, bust-friendly clothing, different/similar body types, etc etc :)

(P.S. Muscular Hourglass already has some BiuBiu reviews up and plans to do her own Urkye post soon, so check her blog out!)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Urkye Review: Turkus w kiesce dress

The second item from my recent Urkye order is the Kieska (Pocket-dress) in turquoise!

Bras I Hate tried this dress recently as well with good results. Since she thought the 36oo/ooo was a little roomy for her and she wears a few cup sizes larger than I do, I decided to try the 36o/oo size in the dress.

From the front, it looks pretty good. Like the Francuski shirt, it's a thicker material, has some stretch to it (and is fairly clingy), and feels quite comfy.

...However, the back gives me the same problem that I got with the Francuski, but in a much more pronounced way - it wrinkles up quite a bit at my narrowest point. Some knowledgeable blogging friends pointed out that the wrinkling issue I get is most probably due to a few things:

-My body type. As mentioned before, I have a sharp curve to my back, a short torso, a broader upper back/shoulders, and higher-set/wider hips. All of these factors combined make it so I tend to get extra fabric in this space in my back - in particular, there's more fabric here than torso, and the fabric also gets "caught up" in my waist because my hips flare out so suddenly.

-The dress itself. It's simply made for someone with a slightly narrower overall frame, less extreme instant-hipcurve, and perhaps slightly longer torso than I have. The consensus among knowledgeable friends was that it was most likely a body-type issue rather than a sizing issue (i.e. wearing the dress in a larger size wouldn't really fix all the issues, and would make the dress too large overall). The dress is maybe slightly tight on my bust and right below my waist, but much of the wrinkling problem goes away when I "fix" the short/very curved torso issue by lengthening out the curve of my torso by raising my arms:

It's really a pity that the dress just doesn't seem to be made for me. :( I do love the side profile it gives me:

You can still see the wrinkling that I get in the back of the dress, though. Bras I Hate pointed out that in the pictures of her wearing the same dress in a 36oo/ooo, you can see how much more gradually her back curves as compared to my sudden, sharp curve, so even though she does get a bit of wrinkling in the back of the dress (perhaps just because of the way the dress is), it's much less noticeable on her torso (which, while probably longer than mine, she still describes as short). She also pointed out that my hips/bum stick out more, which also affects the fit; while the dress hangs about evenly front and back from the legs on her, the bottom of the dress is clinging to my legs in front and sticking out in back instead on me (rather than being 50/50 hanging in front and back of legs).

I'm still deciding if I want to keep the dress. I like the shape and it's definitely comfy, but it's just not as well suited for my body type as it would be for most others. If you're considering the dress, I would say give it a go! Who could resist those pockets? ;)
[ETA: I ended up passing along the dress to Muscular Hourglass, and it worked out much better for her!]

Check out the other Urkye review posts:
-Francuski Blekit
-Groszki Latte & Kontrast w fuksji

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Urkye Review: Francuski Blekit

Have you heard about the company Urkye yet? They're a small, Polish, "boob friendly" clothing company (much like BiuBiu) that just started up early last month. I made a small order about a week ago and received my package already, so be expecting several clothing review posts to follow!

When I was first checking out the company, I loved all the clothes that I saw, but was a little bit intimidated by the size chart (as usual for me with online charts). My measurements (93-94cm bust, about 71cm waist) placed me right about in the middle of four sizes (36oo, 38o, 36ooo, and 38oo). I emailed Ula, the owner of Urkye, and received a prompt and VERY helpful response. She advised that my bests fit would probably be about 36oo/ooo in general, and possibly 38o/oo depending on how I liked my clothing to fit and how the fabrics ran. She told me what sizes some of the models were wearing so I could compare. Based on her advice, I ended up ordering three different pieces of clothing, plus buying one shirt new/used from someone. I highly recommend asking Ula if you have any specific questions about ordering or sizing!

The first item up for review is the Francuski Blekit, which I ordered in a 36oo/ooo.

I'm not at all used to having tailored-type clothing (or clothing that fits really well) so I almost felt like this shirt seemed too small at first. But, after wearing it for a bit, I got used to it and now feel like it's a perfect fit. I'm definitely glad I didn't order a size smaller, though! The fabric feels thicker and the shirt seems very well-constructed, but it still has a nice firm stretchiness to it. It's quite amazingly comfy.

You'll notice that in the picture above (back view), there's some wrinkling in the middle of the shirt around the narrowest part of my back. This, I found (based on the way other similar things fit and the comments and help of fellow bloggers and friends), is not due to some strange flaw of the shirt, but rather because of my body type. I have a fairly broad back and shoulders, a short waist/torso, and the curves above and below my waist are rather sudden and pronounced. I have a rather high-set "hipline" (for lack of a better term) below my waist, and this sometimes stretches clothing in an odd way.

You can see how suddenly/sharply my back curves in and then out again in the side view here. Because of this, and the fact that I have a pretty short waist, there tends to be that extra fabric that shows up in shirts in that narrowest area of my back. It's not very bad on this shirt in particular, and it doesn't really bother me, but it was interesting to learn about myself! Wrinkling in the shirt shouldn't be a problem for most people, especially if you don't have a short torso area like me.

(And look - it's actually long enough! :D)

Overall, I really love this shirt, and I'd definitely order it again - it's comfortable, well-constructed, and well-fitting! One small annoying thing was the tag on the inside of the shirt on the side - I have sensitive skin and found the tag pretty itchy and annoying, so I'll probably cut it out sometime. No biggie!

Check out the other reviews for this order:
-Turkus w Kiesce
-Groszki Latte & Kontrast w fuksji

Monday, July 2, 2012

In-Store Bra Fitting: Victoria's Secret

If you've read this blog much, you know that I tend to talk about how bra-fitting methods used in U.S. stores are all too often grossly inaccurate. Almost all stores use the incorrect and outdated method of adding inches to the underbust measurement (anywhere from 2-6+) to get a starting point band size, or they take an "overbust" measurement, which virtually does the same thing (adds 4-6 inches to bandsize).

One of the biggest "problem stores" in regards to ill-fitting? None other than that lingerie-giant Victoria's Secret (surprise, surprise!). June of Braless in Brasil recently followed the bra fitting advice on the Victoria's Secret website with less-than ideal results (the measurements put her in a 36C rather than her usual 28J). Maddie did a guest post where she (a 32JJ) was fitted as a 40DD at Victoria's Secret. And quite a while back (when I was wearing a 30G), I went and "got fitted" at Victoria's Secret into "a 34C or possibly a 34D". During that fitting in 2010, I expressed throughout the fitting that I didn't think the bras they gave me were fitting well at all in the cups, and I pulled on the bands to show how loose they were. The fitter back then gave me 32DD's to try, indicated they were mostly okay, and said I could try a 32DDD if I wanted (still way off, but anyway). However, I suspected that had I not sort of guided the fitting, the fitter would have simply just told me I was indeed a (horribly fitting) 34C.

But, after all, that was about 2 years ago. My size has fluctuated a bit since then (from a 30G, to a 28GG, to almost a 28G, to my current 28H/HH). Surely getting sized again at Victoria's Secret will indicate that I've at least changed sizes according to them, right? Surely they've learned something about proper fitting in the last couple of years? Maybe they'll tell me that I'm out of their size range and that I should look elsewhere for a bra that will fit me?

Measuring at Home

First of all, I decided to follow the bra measuring advice on the Victoria's Secret website. The instructions tell you to take an "overbust" measurement to get your band size. I'm not sure how taking an overbust measurement relates to anything since the band of a bra sits under the bust rather than over it, but here goes:

The website says "The resulting number is your bandsize. Hint: if the number is odd, round down to the closest even number." As you can see, I get a measurement of 35, giving me a band size of 34. Well, that's a full 7 inches bigger than my underbust measurement of 27 inches, and 3 whole band sizes up from the 28 band I usually wear, but Victoria's Secret must know best, right?

Next up, cup size.
"Measure completely around the fullest part of your bust. This is your bust measurement." I get a measurement of about 37.

Now, the website tells me to "subtract the bandsize from the bust measurement" to get my cup size. So, 37 - 34 = 3 inches of difference, which, according to Victoria's Secret, would make me a C cup. A 34C, to be exact.

In-Store Fitting

Wow! And all this time I thought a 28H fit me pretty well! But, it is Victoria's Secret after all... and they must know best! But still, after all, a 34C has a cup volume of five sizes smaller than I usually wear. Maybe there was some user error here in regards to figuring out my bra size? Let's see what a fitter at an actual store measures me as:

Well, I guess I was right! The girl there measured me pretty much exactly like I measured myself. She then asked me what kind of bras I was looking for (I said I wasn't sure, but probably unpadded) and told me to go ask for some 34C's at the fitting room.

I chose a fitting room (which, by the way, had unideal lighting for pictures, sorry) and pondered this sign whilst I awaited some bras in my "new size":
Okay, Victoria's Secret, I'm ready to be shown what the right bra can do for me!
[Pictures are over clothing because I couldn't get a "decent" picture in just the bra]

As you can see (using for comparison the well-fitting altered 30GG bra I'm wearing underneath):
-The cups on this 34C VS bra are FAR too small to offer any sort of support (they were floating off my body and basically only served to cover the front of my breasts)
-I am getting all sorts of spillage out of all sides of the cups (falling out the bottom, top, and sides)
-The cups were so small that I had to lengthen the straps all the way to even get the bra on
-Even with the cups so small, the band was still so loose that I could pull the bra far away from my body
-The center gore had absolutely no hope of sitting flush with my sternum as it should in a well-fitting bra, and it stuck out several inches from my chest
-The wires were not touching my ribcage anywhere (they were sitting on breast tissue instead).
Honestly, none of the pictures I took (wearing a well-fitting bra underneath or not) could illustrate just how terrible the bra was fit-wise.

And yet, this bra was declared a "good fit" by the Victoria's Secret fitter. I dutifully tried on the 34C and showed it to her. She saw the spillage, the way the center gore was inches away from the sternum, the way that my breasts were bulging out on all sides, and the way that the wires were sitting on my breasts, and said "That looks good!" She only offered to bring me a different size (34D) when I expressed some concern about "it feels a little loose" - I was trying not to "guide" the fitting too much, but I wanted to see what the fitter would say about a different size. I'll also note here that I did not "adjust" my breasts around in any bras to even better show how horrible the fit was; I simply sort of placed the bra over my breasts to see if the fitter would pull on and adjust the bra (as a good fitter should) to see how the bra was truly fitting.

Well, I felt pretty UNsexy in the 34C bra with all the spillage going on (and wondering what would happen if I actually tried, say, walking briskly or wearing a fitted shirt over the bra). But since Victoria's Secret knows what's best for me, the 34D should work much better, right?

...Unfortunately not. The fitter said it "looked good." Again, she didn't pull on or try to adjust the bra at all to better determine fit, and she only offered to bring another size when I pointed out how the center gore was still "floating" away several inches from my chest (I didn't point out the painfully obvious bulging out of the cups, or the much-too-loose band that was riding up, or the wires sitting on and cutting in my breast tissue and not sitting against my ribcage anywhere, or that the bra offered no support whatsoever, or that I was getting "underboob" from my breasts falling out the bottom of the bra).The thin straps were the only thing keeping my breasts up - the band was doing nothing to support me. The fitter said that the center gore floating "must mean it's too big for you" (what?) and offered to bring me a 32DD to compare (which, by the way, has the same cup volume as a 34D, but a different cup shape and a smaller band, but the fitter didn't seem to know this).

Now, the 32DD looked perhaps the worst of them all. That's because the band was not *quite* so large for me, so the cups were brought a little closer to where they should sit. Instead of floating/sagging quite so much off my breasts, the cups were held a little firmer against them (the wires still sitting on breast tissue instead of against the ribcage as they should, and the center gore still "floating"), which exaggerated that I was spilling out all sides (bottom included) of the cups.  Despite the fact that the cups were so massively small that the band had to stretch to make up for it, the band still managed to ride up and I could still pull it away several inches from my ribcage both in back and in front.

It seems that logically, an educated bra fitter would see that a 32 band was at least better for me than a 34 (since I could get it on with no trouble) and would bump up the cup size until there was no bulging. Instead, the fitter looked at it and declared that "The 34C was a much better fit for you, so you're a 34C."

...What? A 32DD cup is obviously far too small, so a 34C cup is somehow the "right fit" for me? I don't even understand the logic in that, even without the visual aid that the fitter got of riding bands, overflowing breast tissue, etc etc. But logic didn't seem to pervade in Victoria's Secret. A 34C I was doomed to be!

Concluding Thoughts

The thing is, if I knew absolutely nothing about bras, I would be defenseless against the terrible fitting advice. I would remember that the 32DD felt tight and too small to me, but I would assume that it was a band issue like the fitter implied rather than a massively small cup, and thus think that "a 32 band is too tight for me" (even though I could pull the band several inches away from my body when I tried). I wouldn't know that I should adjust my boobs into the cup to see how the fit was. I wouldn't know that the function of a bra cup was to support the breasts.

Victoria's Secret, you are doing a huge disservice to women with your "fittings." I am forced to conclude that you teach your fitters methods that make the fitters unable to correctly fit women. There was just no logic to this fitting at all.

If I followed the fitting and measuring advice of Victoria's Secret, I might not even know how to wear a bra at all. I mean, if the band size is determined by the overbust, why not just wear the bra like this?

(And, lest you think that this was just a fluke fitting or a bad store, tune in soon for a follow-up guest post I'll be doing for Braless in Brasil!)

Have you ever experienced unknowledgeable fitters, or felt like you could do a better job fitting yourself than salesgirls at certain stores?

What are your thoughts on Victoria's Secret and their methods? Have you ever been fitted there?