Thanks for sharing with us your bra fitting tips and experiences on your blog! I find your info really useful since most of the info on the internet is about what does a bad bra fitting looks like and the signs of it but never really the causes. I can never figure out why in some bras the cups feel tight even though I don't have the classic signs of a bad fitting bra and am technically in the right size. Thanks to your blog, I find out I need medium to broad underwires. The other bras I felt tight in had narrower underwires.
I have some bra fitting questions that I hope you can answer:
1. I live in the U.S and most of the brands you recommended on your blog are only available online. I think we have Gossard & Elle Macpherson in Nordstrom stores. Are there other good affordable U.S brands that I can find in U.S stores? I have never tried to return/exchange clothing online since I see that as wasting money in shipping it back and forth. Also, I don't know if it's just that I haven't been to a lot of lingerie stores in my area but most of the bras are for breasts full on top, which wouldn't fit me properly because of my breast shape.
2. Can a right size & style bra help the breast tissue migrate more towards the center if I don't have a bad case of breast tissue migration? I think I'm pretty fortune in that I don't have big breasts all my life and wearing the wrong bra size thus I don't have the my breast tissue under my armpits and in back rolls. My breast tissue has always been closer to the sides (my arms) than the center of my chest where I want them to be.
3. What kind of bras should I wear to better center my breast tissue? Most demi & balconet bras have shorter wires I think and those with longer underwires have fuller cups that I can't fill out at the sides since I have shallow breasts. I think a plunge bra would be more appropriate but I remembered you mentioned that they're not really comfortable for daily wear.
4. What are the signs of a good bra design? What should we look for when purchasing a bra? I know molded & contour cups aren't good for your breasts since they will mold your breast to the shape of the cup. Can you further define what a soft cup bra is?
Some background info to help you better answer my questions & understand my situation:
I have an average size, I guess I'm lucky in that I can find my size easily in stores. I have shallow wide set breasts with medium to broad width (I think), my breasts are closer to the sides than the center. My breast shape is more tear drop, resembling the shape on the far right in your shallow breast blog diagram. I'm also petite (I'm 5'2") with wide shoulders and overweight. I guess since I have kind of an athletic build, not much fat goes to my chest area even though I'm overweight, instead they're pretty well distributed all over my body.
I went for a bra fitting at Nordstrom around a year ago and they fit me in a 36B Chantelle C Chic 3 Part Cup bra. However, in most other brands I usually wear a 34C depending on how stretchy the band is. Victoria's secret measure me at a 34B and my sister in a 34B as well even though in clothing we're at least one size apart! I can't find my measuring tape at the moment but I think my under-bust measurement is around 34-35.
I'm so glad my blog helped you figure out your underwire width! Here are my suggestions regarding your questions: Also, thank you for writing them out clearly and logically :)
Offline stores in the US + shopping online frugallyHere is a list of recommended brick-and-mortar stores. I think the best US brand at the moment is Parfait Affinitas, they have a couple of offline stores.
Although shipping costs extra, online stores usually have a much bigger range of sizes, brands and models than offline stores, so don't completely dismiss online shopping. Also, you might find pretty low prices during sales and special promotions. Some online stores might offer free shipping (sometimes only for a limited time as a special offer). I recommend buying a bigger amount of bras online (10 or more) and returning most of them, this is much more frugal than shipping two pairs back and forth.
Centering wide-spaced breastsFrom personal experience I'd say that breasts can get a bit closer together from wearing well-fitting bras. I never used to have cleavage, just a flat space between my breasts, now I do have a "valley". My breasts are still wide-spaced, but not extremely so.
Plunges can be comfortable, it's only those cleavage-enhancing styles like Panache Inferno that are not recommended for everyday wear. And many plunges that work with shallow breasts (what do you shallow-breasted ladies recommend?) Do check out my review of the Braologie Posture Contour bra and vest, it is what I recommend to everyone who wants to center their breasts and / or deal with migration.
What to look for when buying a braSoft cups are cups that are not padded / molded. They can be made of one layer of fabric or lined. They work together with the breast shape instead of being a firm mold to which the breast tissue has to adapt. I recommend soft cups for everyday wear, and moulded and padded bras only under outfits that need them.
I highly recommend underwires and not wire-free bras. Also, a one-piece band is usually superior to a three-piece band.
The fabrics should feel nice to the touch and not scratch. The underwires should not be terribly bendy *cough* Triumph *cough*, although this is not such a big concern in smaller cup sizes. Do try pulling on the band to see how much it stretches; if you feel it is extra stretchy you might want to size down (don't forget to simultaneously size up in the cup).
Finally, the material and elastic should be solid enough to last and not stretch out too soon. Maybe trained seamstresses can tell how long a bra will last by looking at it, I usually rely on online reviews.
A word on Victoria's SecretIt sounds from your measurements that you should wear 34 bands. However I wouldn't trust VS fitters. A while back several bra bloggers went undercover and got a fitted at different Victoria's Secret stores, and you can admire the results here, here, here. Here is an analysis of why their methods don't work. You need to get your measuring tape out and see what the calculator has to say. Try on several cup sizes in a store, and don't forget to scoop and swoop!
Any tips and advice for J? Did your breasts get more centered from wearing well-fitting bras? What do you look for when buying a bra?