Behind the Curtain in a Luxury Lingerie Store

There’s a beautiful science behind bras — and no, I’m not just talking about boobies (although those are great, too). Ask yourself this: Do you know how a bra is supposed to fit? If your answer is “make dem titties look good heh heh” then, oh honey, do we have some work to do. Because you see, not every breast is supposed to fit in every bra; nor is every bra made to fit every breast. Join me, if you will, as I take you behind the curtain and into a personal fitting room where I will tell you everything you need to know about bras. And fear not, social justice warriors, for there is a room for every gender in Natasha’s Lingerie Laboratory.

So what goes on behind the curtain in a lingerie store? Well, it depends on the store. In Victoria’s Secret, they’ll probably try to fit you into a bra that probably doesn’t fit you. The first thing to get out of the way is American versus European versus Asian sizing. American sizes typically use bands from 32-38, whereas European sizing usually goes from 28-44. Asian sizes tend to be on the smaller spectrum of everything, and that’s all I know about that one. But, let’s knock out a common scenario I’ve run into time after time. It goes something like this:

Me (as a sales associate in a lingerie store, back in ye olde days): Welcome! Do you know your bra size here?

Customer: Yes, I’m a 34B.

Me: Okay, let’s get you in the fitting room and double check to make sure you get the best bra possible.

And then I end up fitting the person in a 30F, a size they had no idea even existed. Typical American and Canadian stores have a limited range of sizes based on arbitrary averages they’ve decided to run in their fashion lines. When a person with a smaller rib cage but large breasts tries to get a bra in Victoria’s Secret, the sales associate will fit them to accommodate for cup size; this often results in said person being fit with something like a 38DD, which is a ridiculous band size but the cup ends up working out. In reality, said person would probably benefit with something like a 32H.

Whoa, you might be thinking if you’re shocked by this information (or just received a startling email at this exact moment). Yeah, most people are wearing, or have worn, the wrong bra size. When I started working in a European lingerie store, the first thing the manager did was fit me in a new bra. I went in wearing a 32C, and I came out with a 28D. Blew my mind. My tits had found fabric heaven. No more band riding up my back or cups flopping forward or straps digging in. A. Perfect. Fit. So that brings us to how a bra should actually be fitting you. If you’re super patient, watch this video, which basically explains the rest of the article in a slightly less comedic format:

Here’s how I was taught a bra should fit for maximum comfort and support:

  • Band should be level with your chest (i.e. not at an angle like it’s higher or lower than your bust)
  • Cups should encompass all the breast tissue and there should be no “pinch” marks where it looks like the cup is indenting at the sides
  • There should be no gaps along the top of the bra and should sit flush with your breasts; the test for this is to let your shoulders shrug down and see if a gap opens where the cup meets the strap
  • Straps should not be digging in; the band should be 90% of the support for the bra
  • A band should be tight enough that you can fit a finger or two underneath it (i.e. you shouldn’t be able to tie a fucking bow with your bra band)

Sometimes when I would be doing a bra fitting, I’d get a woman in a wonderful bra and she’d turn around and reject my fitting. Why? “Back fat.” Then there would be the complaint that the bra must be too tight. NOPE. So here’s a short anatomy lesson: The “flab” that I’ve heard complaints about is actually two muscles called teres major and minor. They “wing” out from the bottom of the scapula to a part of the humerus. Even women with very low body fat still have this “flab.” So ask yourself this: Would you rather have a good fitting bra with “back fat,” or a severely hindered ability to move your shoulder joint? Also, don’t fat shame. That’s gross.

The next juicy titbit to get into is bra shape. Did you know there are more kinds of bras than a push-up? Actually, “push-up” can describe other bras that don’t have extra padding in them; it is simply whether or not a bra gives extra lift to the breasts. Other bra types include unlined, partially lined, balconettes, full shapers, maternity, strapless, plunge, and more! And what kind of bra that will look best on you depends on your tits. Often I’ve referred to breasts as top heavy or bottom heavy, or somewhere in between — basically how “perky” one’s breasts are. It’s really a matter of trying on as many bra shapes as you can to determine which one looks the best. Where your breast tissue density is located will determine what style of bra best emphasizes your features.

Another important consideration is that your size, once determined, is a reference. Different bras fit differently. Black fabric tends to be tighter which sometimes requires a looser band, you might be a cup size up in one bra style versus another, and manufacturers sometimes just don’t make bras uniform. Even when I buy the same bra that I’ve been using for years, I always try it on in store because sometimes that run of bras was made slightly tighter, or maybe the cups were cut differently.

Having a well-fitted bra is not only stylish, but actually pretty damn important for your body. How many people can’t wait to whip off their bras after work? A good bra should feel like a second skin. There shouldn’t be any aches or pains from wearing a bra. This is especially crucial to consider during exercise, because you can actually damage the ligaments in your breasts if you don’t have the proper support. So do yourself (and anyone you know) a favor and get them a proper bra fitting ASAP.

Treat yo’ tits.

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