How the right bra can change your life
By Alison Mintenko-Crane
Women have been strapping themselves into bras for nearly 100 years. Before that came centuries of being tied into corsets, and before that came all manner of clothing and bindings worn in an attempt to fit and support breasts.
With all the ideas and styles that have been worn by women throughout the ages – some with very little support, some so supportive they made breathing difficult – is it really such a big deal to have a proper fitting bra?
“Absolutely!” says Crystal Adamson, President of The BraBar & Panterie. “A proper fitting bra can have a big impact on how a woman looks and feels.”
If you’ve never been properly fitted for a bra and have relied solely on buying the size you always have, or for just grabbing whatever seems comfy from the rack, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. Many women spend 14 hours (or more) in a bra every day; you owe it to yourself to wear one that provides the support it’s intended to, and that could have such an impact on your life.
“A proper fitting, good quality bra should be comfortable. An ill-fitting bra relies on the bra straps to provide support; putting strain on the back and neck. When properly fitted the support in a bra comes from the band, not the straps. This alleviates back and neck pain. Women also commonly find bras uncomfortable due to slipping bra straps and/or wires digging in. These issues can also be remedied by a proper fitting bra.
We always encourage women to try on their tops during a fitting so they can see the difference. Proper support provides lift and brings breast tissue forward, resulting in the torso appearing longer and narrower. Not only do clothes fit better, but it’s often said that a good fitting bra can make a woman appear 10 pounds lighter,” explains Adamson.
Bras have come a long way since the days of matronly beige and full cups. First designed solely for the purpose of support, these days there are a bevy of styles to choose from, still providing support, but adding some style and sexiness into the mix.
“Today there are many different shapes and styles available in various colours and fabrics. Even the basic seamless t-shirt bras have evolved and are no longer restricted to plain and boring. We have seamless t-shirt bras made from beautiful lace, and available in various colours,” she says.
You might remember having a fitting done when you were younger, perhaps getting your first bra, most likely with your mom or an aunt or grandma with you. I remember having to strip my shirt off for an ornery woman with cold hands while she pulled out a measuring tape, wrapped it around me a few times, then came back with a few bras and told me those were what I needed. It was a bit upsetting then, and I can imagine it being almost as bad as an adult. At the BraBar & Panterie, however, their fittings are nothing like that.
“Many women are surprised that we conduct our fittings without taking a single measurement. The measuring tape method is not accurate because every bra fits differently and every woman has a unique shape. This method usually results in a bra size that is too loose in the band and not enough cup,” she explains.
“Rather than using a measuring tape, we fit by using bras and applying fit concepts. When a woman comes for a bra fitting we ask her to try on a bra (often using the size she is currently wearing as a guideline). Once she has the bra on, one of our fitters checks the fit, and discusses the criteria to determine a proper fit. The bra fitter will change the bra size accordingly and will bring different styles for the client to try based on their preferences. As professional bra fitters, it is our job to know the strengths of the various styles we carry, and what body shapes each one works best for.”
So what about the case for underwire vs. no wire? There are women who refuse to wear underwire, claiming that they don’t want to have wires “digging into them” all day. Most likely the reason for that feeling is that the bra doesn’t fit properly to begin with. A properly fitting underwire bra wraps around the breast tissue and does not dig into the side of a breast.
“The underwire is designed to provide additional support, and also aids in shaping and separating the breasts. Since underwire bras provide better support and are the more preferred than non-wire bras, there is a much better selection in wire bras,” says Adamson.
Like many lingerie stores, The BraBar & Panterie carry a wide assortment of bras, ranging from everyday wear, to nursing bras, sports bras and mastectomy bras. They even carry a nursing tank which Adamson says has become a real customer favourite.
They do their best to accommodate women of all shapes and sizes as well, carrying bras in cup sizes ranging from AA – M
and band sizes from 30 through 54. Additional sizes are available by special order.
The right bra can be a real life changer, and Adamson sums it up best: “A good fitting bra can transform a woman. We often see women stand taller and become more confident when they find a bra they look good and feel good in. Seeing that transformation is why we love doing what we do.”
Signs of an Ill-fitting Bra
If a woman can answer yes to any of these questions, it’s likely that she’s not wearing the correct size:
• Do you experience neck and/or back pain?
• Do your bra straps constantly slip off your shoulders?
• Does your bra ride up on your back?
• Do your underwires dig into you?
• Does your bra cut into your breast tissue, causing the “double bump” effect?
• Does your bra come away from your body when you lift up your arms?