Bra fitting and sizing

Experts from lingerie manufacturers Panache answer Mumsnetters questions on finding the right bra - from bra fitting and sizing, to finding the right bra for breastfeeding, irregular sizes and special occasions.

Bra fitting for irregular sizesPregnancy and maternity bras | Bras for special occasions Bra design

 

Bra fitting for irregular sizes

Q. Morningpurples: I am so different on both sides (always have been) that nothing ever seems to fit right. If I fit the bigger side, as is usually recommended, the cup on the smaller side just folds over and looks wrinkled etc. I've never found any 'fillers' the right shape to add to it. Any suggestions?

Also I have trouble getting the straps to be short enough. I'm built really 'high', and have very sloped shoulders, so the straps just slide off much of the time. Any kind of scoop neck top or vest top or anything always ends up revealing way too much. I work with chlildren and can't bend down without showing all. Any ideas?

A. Panache: All women's breasts vary in shape, and the comments which you mention are common to many women. Similar to the advice you have received we, too, would always recommend fitting to the larger breast, to avoid any pain or discomfort caused from the bra being too tight or the wires digging in at the underarm.

Panache Andora braSome recommended shapes and styles which may be worth trying are:

  • Andorra - this is a stretch lace full-cup bra from our Panache Superbra collection, perfect for offering a versatile fit, accommodating the shape of each breast
  • Jasmine and Sienna balconnet bras - again from Panache Superbra, have similar stretch lace top cups, again offering a versatile fit in these fashionable styles.

All these styles offer fully adjustable straps to ensure full support.

Another option could be the Panache Sports Bra. This is a comfortable everyday style, which offers a greater level of coverage and can be worn as a racer back option which would help avoid the straps slipping off the shoulders. It offers a smooth, rounded uplifted shape.

In the New Year, we're launching our new collection, Sculptresse. This range offers a selection of balconnet, full cup and T-shirt bras. The fully adjustable straps are crafted to sit closer together at the back to ensure they stay in position and sit comfortably on the body without slipping. With plush padded backing, these styles ensure maximum comfort.

Q. BandersnatchCummerband: Can you recommend any bras (that start in a 28 back) for someone whose boobs have sagged and lost all their fullness at the top?

I am sick of expensive, attractive bras in the right size that still seem to leave my boobs sitting at waist level. I want to be able to wear low-cut tops without feeling ashamed! It doesn't help that so many bras only have half-adjustable straps. They all need to be fully adjustable!

A. Panache: You will be pleased to hear that all of our ranges offer fabulous shapes and styles with sizes and options ranging from a 28-44 back. The Cleo collection in particular all start from sizes 28, with a huge selection of modern classics and fashionable everyday bras.

Some recommended styles, which all start from a 28 back and are fully adjustable, that you may wish to try for your shape include:

  • Tango plunge bra – plunge bras offer a flattering shape where fullness of the breast is at the bottom
  • Andorra full cup bra – being made from stretch lace it offers a versatile fit, accommodating the shape of the bust
  • Lucy Balconnet Bra – a pretty lower coverage balconnet shape, which has a lace embroidery top cup to flatter the shape of the bust.
  • Amor Sweetheart Moulded Bra – this sweetheart neckline offers a flattering shape with a lower level of coverage and a rounded uplifted shape.

The support from all bras come from the underband, this should feel firm but not too tight.

Our friends at My Curves and Me offer a wide selection of choice, for a reasonable discounted price point, we hope you will be able to find a style you love.

Q. Eaurouge: I'm a big fan of your Tango bra. I have a question about different styles of bra. I'm a 30 GG. I have a teensy rib cage so very little space between my norks. For this reason I can't find a balconette or full-cup style that will fit me, the space between the cups is always too big so I always end up getting plunge bras. I would like something a bit more supportive sometimes; what would you suggest?

A. Panache: Thank you for your feedback, we are pleased to hear that you like Tango. A lot of our bras are based on this shape, so if you like this collection you may also want to try some similar styles such as Fern or Jasmine. Andorra is also a pretty lace full-cup option.

Our Cleo collection has a selection of plunge and balconnet bras which have a shorter wire, so the breasts sit closer together. You may wish to try styles such as Lucy balconnet bra.

Q. Sansucre: Why are so few of your bras available in a 28 band size?

A. Panache: All of our brands - Superbra, Cleo Lingerie, Masquerade, Panache Sport and Swimwear - offer a huge range of bra styles with sizes from a 28 back. Cleo Lingerie and Masquerade, in particular, start from this size.

It is down to the retailers which sizes they buy and, unfortunately, some do miss out 28 backs from their offer.

In 2013, we will be offering a new range of swimwear by Cleo, which offers fashionable on-trend swimwear pieces from a 28-38 back.

For full listings of our collections, please head to www.panache-lingerie.com where you can also view a full list of our online and retail stockists.

Q. CMOTdibbler: I've been told by bra fitters that I'm an odd shape as my breasts (36B) are quite far apart, and it's a real challenge finding a bra that gets the breast tissue, which is basically under my arm, into the cup.

A. Panache: We're sorry to hear that you're struggling to find a bra that fits. Every woman is different and no two boobs or bodies are the same.

"It is usual for smaller breasts to sit further apart. We would recommend a professional bra fitting and you may also want to try going up a cup and down a back size, with a flexible wire to help with the fit."

It is usual for smaller breasts to sit further apart. You may wish to try different styles and shapes, which suit your body shape. We would recommend a professional bra fitting and you may also want to try going up a cup and down a back size, with a flexible wire to help with the fit. We hope this helps.

Q. Cajadelamemoria: Any tips for fitting tubular breasts? My niece was told she had tubular boobs by a plastic surgeon and now no bra shop seems to fit her well. I took her to a few places but as nobody knew, she still bursts out of the bras, and feels even more like a freak. I'd love some great advice to make her feel a bit better. There's literally nothing on this topic! 

A. Panache: We are sorry to hear that your niece is struggling to find a bra that fits after her diagnosis. It's hard to make recommendations without seeing her, however we would recommend visiting a local independent stockist who will be able to advise more. It may take a while to find the perfect fit, but it will be worth it in the end. If you would like some further advice, please feel free to email us direct at ltf@panache-lingerie.com.

Q. Northey: Two points:

  • Could you recommend (or create <begs>) an underwired style which deals with narrow breasts set close together on the chest? I'm a 34 GG, and the underwire placing and width that would suit me is more like that which you would get on a 28 AA, but obviously with masses more room in the cups for my breasts to go into.
  • Now that people are gaining more support from a more firmly fitted rib band, it would be great if bra manufacturers could remember that there is probably less need for hideous thick shoulder straps. Not that you are a particular villain in that regard.

A. Panache: You may find that a plunge style fits better, as it has a shallower wire at the front, such as Harem from Masquerade Lingerie. You may also wish to try a traditional balconnet shape on styles such as Rosetti, again from Masquerade Lingerie, a glamorous style in a fabulous rich red, perfect for an uplifted shape.

With regards to the straps, these tend to be wide to ensure maximum comfort for the wearer, especially across D+ sizes to ensure the weight and pressure is dispersed evenly.

Q. Droves: Why don't you make bras for short women? I can find quite a few in my size, but the adjusting straps are always too long, even when they are fully adjusted to be at their shortest length.

A 5" women doesn't have the same length body as a 5"6 or 6" woman. I'm sick of getting out my sewing machine to alter bloody bra staps. And it's not like I've got tiny boobs either - 32E/F (depending on make and style).

And why are 90% of bras underwired, or with padding? I'm an E - I don't need any more padding I have enough boobs of my own without having fake bits sewed on to my clothes.

A. Panache: All our bras are designed based on industry standards, so unfortunately we don't offer petite or tall options.

We would recommend you opt for bras which have fully adjustable straps to help ensure you can get the maximum from your bra.

Underwired bras have become increasingly popular and this is reflected in the styles offered in the lingerie market. Support comes from the under band, and the wires help to enhance this.

Panache Porcelain braMoulded bras can commonly be mistaken for a padded style. A moulded bra, for example Porcelain, doesn't offer any extra volume, but the moulded cup provides the benefit of offering a rounded shape and appearance for a smooth silhouette under clothes.

Padding in styles such as Evie, our strapless bra, again don't offer any extra volume to the breast but the padding is used to help offer increased support essential in this strapless style.

 

Pregnancy and maternity bras

Q. Koppbergkate: I am currently 20 weeks pregnant and already a 34L (definitely fitted properly). Any ideas what I can do for nursing bras? I have been told by a bra retailer (Bravissimo) to buy a 40K and take the back in myself. Any other ideas?

I'd be happy to have a couple made to measure but I'm not travelling to Rigby and Pellar in London just before or after the birth, which is when I'd need to get them fitted

A. Panache: If your current size is a 34L, this would be a 36KK or 38K if you were to go down a cup and up a back size. These sizes are the equivalent to a 34L and you may wish to try these sizes, too.

Q. fryingpanalley: Is there any robust medical evidence that underwired nursing bras cause mastitis, blocked ducts and other manner of horridness? As it is a total nightmare that neither the NCT nor Bravissimo sell them, pointing at the health risks, yet I and many other MNetters have ordered them at great expense (and to-ing and fro-ing) off t'interweb and never had a problem. This is not just a vanity issue, it is a basic one about comfort and back health.

"There is no evidence to say that you cannot wear an underwired bra during pregnancy. The advice on the market does recommend soft cups to avoid any pain or discomfort, as if the wire is pressing on breast tissue problems can occur such as mastitis."

A. Panache: There is no evidence to say that you cannot wear an underwired bra during pregnancy. The advice on the market does recommend soft cups to avoid any pain or discomfort, as if the wire is pressing on breast tissue problems can occur such as mastitis.

As long as the bra is correctly fitted and the wires are not sat on breast tissue they should be fine to wear. If there are any concerns, please speak to your local retailer. Hope this helps, and we wish you all the best with your pregnancy.

Q. TravelinColour: What design of bra is best for post-breastfeeding breasts where all the fullness has gone from the top? I wear a DD so that wires enclose the whole boob and don't dig in underneath, but that means there is space at the top.

A. Panache: This is a common problem for many women, so you are not alone. Finding the right shape to suit your figure can take time but will be worth it in the end. We would suggest visiting your local independent retailer for a professional fitting service, as they will be able to assess your shape and make a personal recommendation. A full list of Panache stockists can be found on our website. Common features of a relaxed bust can be that there is space at the top of the cups.

Sophie maternity braA couple of shapes which may be worth trying are:

  • Tango plunge bra – plunge bras offer a flattering shape where fullness of the breast is at the bottom
  • Andorra full cup bra – made from stretch lace, it offers a versatile fit accommodating the shape of the bust
  • Porcelain Moulded T-Shirt bra – you may find a gap as you have mentioned but this T-shirt bra will offer a rounded, smooth shape under clothing
  • Lucy Balconnet Bra – a pretty lower coverage balconnet shape, which has a lace embroidery top cup to flatter the shape of the bust.

Q. cakes82: Why is measuring for a bra so complicated? I was looking for nursing bras on the internet because I live too far from shops that offer measuring services. So I checked for how to measure - some sites say add inches to under bust measurement, some don't and it all got very confusing. Plus, who can afford to pay some of the prices for nursing bras that are being asked when they just had a child?

A. Panache: There are a lot of different measuring and fitting theories out there on the internet, which have evolved over the years. We agree these can be confusing and differ depending on the site you are looking at.

We would always recommend where possible to visit a store for a one-to-one professional fitting service. However, when this is not feasible we would suggest that you follow the simple guide on ourPanache YouTube channel. A large part of the fit comes from assessing the fit factors of your current bra. Measuring is only a small part of bra fitting.

Maternity and nursing bras should be fitted differently to your normal bra, as you must allow for varying factors and many changes during pregnancy. For more information, please feel free to email our team direct at ltf@panache-lingerie.com.

When it comes to finding bras at affordable prices, our friends at My Curves & Me offer a wide selection of choice and for a reasonable discounted price point.

 

Bras for special occasions

Q. Lavendarhoney: I have a lovely silk dress, which I am struggling to find a bra to go with. It must be seamless with no lacy bits as they will show through. The T-shirt ones are all padded or made from really hard material which gives my boobs a funny non-natural shape and look or not in my size. I am a 32FF. This makes it harder as I have almost no choice.

I don't want a sports bra masquerading as a bra - my dress is scalloped neckline and a fitted silk, so a bra structure will show through, and I don't want to look like I've got a sports bra on or a minimiser.

A. Panache: Your dress sounds very special and we hope you can find a bra to match. Our Porcelain collection, which includes T-shirt, plunge and strapless bras, are all moulded (non-padded and seamless) to offer a smooth silhouette under clothing. In a super-soft, lightweight fabric these pieces help to provide a seamless finish.

There are also other T-shirt bras on the market which are non-padded and offer a seam-free finish without creating any extra volume to the bust. We hope that you get to wear your dress without a sports bra and with a fabulously fitting bra which matches your dress.

 

Bra design

Q. Mackereloffact: I have 34GG boobs, but so many of the bras in my size are moulded or padded. I don't really want or need padding, plus I don't have the space to store the monstrosities. Am I missing the point of all this padding in bigger sizes? Should I be wearing padding?

Also, while I always end up having to buy expensive bras (due to the size 32FF/32G), the wire seems to break within 12/24 months. The wiring usually starts off so tight I can't wait to take it off. 

A. Panache: As D+ lingerie experts we understand your comments. The bras in our collections have been designed with this in mind.

Our collections include all styles, non-padded, padded and moulded. Being a 34GG doesn't mean that you can't wear non-padded, quite the opposite, some of our most popular and loved styles are non-padded.

Panache Tango braFor example, the Tango balconnet bra, Andorra stretch lace bra and Fern balconnet bra are all non-padded. The sizes of these range from a 28-44 back width and are available up to a K cup in both everyday and fashion-led colours and prints. Non-padded bras still offer the maximum in support, without compromising on style.

A new bra will feel tighter due to the greater level of elasticity. As you mentioned this will reduce with regular wear.

We would recommend that during the fitting, the bra should be fitted on the loosest hook to ensure that the bra can be altered as time passes and elasticity diminishes. This will also help to ensure you get the most of your bra, making the most of your money.

"Depending on how regularly you wear your bras, we would recommend a professional fitting every three to six months, or where there has been a change in weight."

Depending on how often and regularly you wear your bras, we would recommend a professional fitting every three to six months, or when there has been a change in weight.

For many women, their period can mean their breasts become fuller and so bras can feel tight. A stretch lace bra such as Andorra could be a good option during this time, as stretch lace design can vary to encase the shape of the bust. Some women even invest in some bras in a larger size for during this time, as comfort is key.

Our friends at My Curves & Me offer a wide selection of Panache bras and for a reasonable discounted price point.

Q. Tyranasaurus: Why are large-cup, small-back sizes scaled so badly? It seems that most bra manufacturers just keep scaling up smaller cup sizes, but at some point your boobs stop getting wider and just keep going out - in many brands I have the underwires coming round under my armpits.

I'm a 32JJ and whilst I can get a nursing bra in my size, they are the most depressing saggy boob things ever. Don't tell anyone but I've sent the last six months breastfeeding from an underwired bra (Freya), which I adapted with nursing bra clips.

A. Panache: We have made improvements based on the wires being high and this has been phased in over the previous and upcoming seasons, so hopefully you will see an improvement. Styles you may wish to try include Fern and Elsa from Panache Superbra.

There is no evidence to say that you cannot wear an underwired bra during pregnancy. The advice on the market does recommend soft cups to avoid any pain or discomfort caused by a wrongly fitted bra, as if the wire is pressing on breast tissue problems can occur, such as mastitis.

As long as the bra is correctly fitted and the wires are not sat on breast tissue they should be fine to wear. If there are any concerns please speak to your local retailer.

Q. HellothisisJoanie: I want to say how much I LOVE your bikinis. I also want to suggest that you do less lace! Women with big hooters don't want masses of frills.

Also can you do bras with tapering straps so that if they are visible you only see thin bits at the top? Or normal bras with removable straps so you can put pretty ones on and the bra acts as a semi strapless?

A. Panache: Thank you for your lovely comments and feedback, this has been shared with our internal design team.

With regards to a strapless bra, might we suggest Evie or Porcelain strapless. Both of these styles are supplied with detachable straps, offering versatility of wear. For something more luxurious, you may wish to have a look at Deity, from our Masquerade collection.

The support in all bras come from the under-band, this is essential to provide a uplifted and supported shape. The straps only aid this.

Q. Cashmere: I'm tall (5ft10) and always have to have straps at their/near their longest setting. As people get taller, could you consider adding an extra inch to strap length please? I've considered getting them adjusted but it seems a shame to cut up pretty new bras - I expect I'd need to add fabric at the back.

Also I wear a 30 or 32 back, but find that having bras as tight as recommended can mean they cut into my ribs. I've very little flesh (am very slim), so wonder if this is an issue for others with less padding around their rib cage? If the trend is to wear bras tighter to achieve better support I'd appreciate a thicker 'comfort' bra with a lightly padded/wadded band. I realise this wouldn't work under tight clothes, but the option would be nice for some days.

A. Panache: All our bras are designed based on industry standard; so unfortunately we don't offer petite or tall options.

We would recommend that you opt for bras that have fully adjustable straps to help ensure you can get the maximum in terms of adjustment and hopefully this will avoid you having to make any adjustments.

Depending on the cup size of the bra you are wearing, you may wish to opt for a looser back fitting such as a 34, this would help the bra feel more comfortable and not dig in. A bra should feel firm, but not too tight or dig in and no pain should be caused. If you have any concerns, please visit your local stockist for a free fitting or visit our website for fitting advice – www.panache-lingerie.com

In terms of a ‘comfort' bra, your comments have been passed to the design team. In the meantime, you may wish to try the Panache Sports Bra. The wires are encased in silicone to ensure maximum comfort for the wearer, especially important for during exercise, but could offer an option for the days when you want something supportive but more relaxed.

Q. Theas18: I agree with large-cup, small-back size combo resulting in the wires poking you in the armpits. The youngest really needs a 28G (Tango 2 balcony - the only bra style that's ever really fitted her - fitted by Bravissimo) but has a 30FF because the curve on the wire is too wide and deep and this is still a bit of an issue.

Also, why no 26 back bras? Really needed 26 back as she was growing, in B cup. Had to have scarce 28 back ones. She isn't underweight , but slim and curvy.

A. Panache: With regards to the bras and the wires poking in, we have been made aware of this and improvements have been made and these developments are being phased in to our new products for the current and new spring season.

We are aware of the influx in demand for 26 backs, we have passed your feedback to our head of innovation and design team and this will be something considered during the next design phase.

Q. TheDoctriineofSnatch: Can I agree with the plea for less lace or embroidery? Even a quite thick jersey top shows the bumps through it.

A. Panache: Thank you for your comments. We've noted your feedback and shared it with our design team. We aim to provide a wide choice of bras that are fashionable and affordable without compromising on style. Each collection has a variety of options including styles, such as Porcelain, which is our best-selling smooth collection.  

Last updated: 24-Sep-2013 at 2:35 PM