Am I Squeezing Women Into Impossibly Tight Bands ?

   Reader Zoe sent me an interesting article from lulalu, which asks some interesting questions about too tight bands. I quote some excerpts:

   We have seen quite a few instances where our customers were sold bras that were the right cup size, based on how bras are graded, but the band size is completely off, resulting in a rather painful fit (some of our customers come in with very angry looking marks on their bodies from the super tight bands they were wearing).
   An example of this, which we've now seen several times in our store, is when a 36AA customer is sold a 32B bra. In this instance, the 32B cup is actually correct in its own roundabout way because the 32B cup = 34A cup = 36AA cup (this is just the way bras are graded). BUT, and this is the painful part, the customer really needs a 36 band but is squeezed into a 32 band. Of course, by the time the 36AA customer who's wearing a 32B bra gets to our store, they are extremely uncomfortable and can't wait to get their bra off (who can blame them?)!
    One thing we do tell our customers is that all bras will stretch out over time. But, if a band is too tight already in the dressing room and it is being worn on the outermost hook/eye, we will tell the customer to pass on the style because if they cannot tolerate the bra in the dressing room, the odds are they will not wear it for long once they get it home!

Here are some thoughts:

    Yes, it happens that women wear too tight bands, but this is really rare as compared to too loose bands.
      Red marks alone don´t mean a band is too tight. I get red marks from jeans, socks and undies. A band is too tight when you feel discomfort (just saying).
      The girl in the example should try a 34 band. If she can squeeze (and stay squeezed for days and not suffocate) into a 32 band, chances are a 36 will be to loose for her. The problem might also be too small cups, since the girls on that blog seem to commit that mistake a lot: see the top two photos and my comments.

Is your band too tight ?

  • Tightness is a preference and the calculator size is not a verdict. Some ladies prefer to go as snug as possible, some prefer to keep things looser. Feel free to try a band one size snugger or one size looser than what the calculator suggests.
  • Fat tissue on the ribs is compressible and more likely to feel comfortable in tight bands, sometimes even tighter than what the calculator suggests. A ribcage without fat tissue (either bony or with hard muscle) is non-compressible.
  • Big bands stretch more than small bands. I have covered this topic here. Coupled with the previous point, it would mean that a woman with a bigger ribcage measurement due to compressible fat tissue needs to downsize more that a woman with a big ribcage measurement but without fat.
  • Different brands have different bands: La Senza, Discover Mademoiselle, Eva Michalak and Elle Macpherson make bands that are sung. Freya bands often stretch out after washing. Also, certain models have tighter / looser bands than others. I have tried to make a list of those here.

How to test the band in the store:

  • Important: The band should be always tried on back-to-front (with the cups on the back and the closure in the front). This way the cup size doesn´t influence the test (too small cups or too narrow underwires make the band feel too tight).
  • Yes, bands do feel tighter before they are washed. But this is more of a feeling that sets in after a couple of hours on the first day of wearing the bra, and goes away after a few wears. 
  • If you cannot breathe the minute you put on a bra, it really is too tight. If you feel uncomfortable even after the breaking-in period is over, it is too tight. (Of course, make sure that it´s the band that is at fault, not the underwires or cups. Wear the band back-to-front to test this.)
  • If the band really is too tight but you cannot exchange the bra anymore, there are always bra band extenders

   Thanks Zoe for the food for thought. What do you ladies think ? Do you prefer things snugger or not ?  What are your experiences about the compressible vs non-compressible ribcage ? Did anyone ever suggest that your snug band is like wearing a corset ?

Check these out: