Guest post by Susannah Perez

If the cup fits, wear it... If it doesn't, tell that fitter to go jump!

Chances are, if you have been to the high street for a bra fitting, you’ve walked away unhappy with the service. Couple that with being a woman who doesn’t fit between the 32B-38DD ‘norm’ that so many lingerie chains and department stores like to shoehorn people into, you’re even more likely to be feeling deflated and that your chest is a little odd. Well, let me tell you ladies: it’s not you, it’s them.

Most fitters come up short when it comes to fitting smaller busts, whether through lack of training or experience, or the desire to make a sale. So, here is where they get it wrong, from a fitter* that cares about boobs, large and small!

  1. “Don’t worry about the back band.” Step one in finding a great bra is to find your correct size – if you’re being shoved into a 32A because that’s the smallest size they carry, walk on out. If you measure up as, say, a 28 back, you should be wearing a 28 back bra to get the support, shape and comfort you want – same if you’re a 40 and they’re trying to put you in a 34.
  2. “You don’t need a bra.” Every woman’s breasts need support – whether you’re an AA or a FF – and, small or large, most of us don’t necessarily find going braless a liberating experience. Besides, why should you have to miss out on cute and sexy undies?
  3. “You don’t need an underwire, they’re only for bigger busts.” Smaller busts are lucky to be naturally more resistant to the effects of gravity, but they still need a little help on staying perky. If you feel most comfortable and supported with an underwire, don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
  4. “We’ll get you something padded.” Small boobs don’t always want, and definitely don’t ‘need’ mountains of foam, gel and air in their bras. We may want to have sexy, va-va-voom going out bras, but we also want cute, everyday bras – and, believe it or not, fitters, many women are happy with their smaller bust, just as it is!
  5. “You’ve not got enough to have cleavage.” A good, well fitted bra should give you the support and shape you want – yes, even the ones without padding. Cleavage isn’t classified as Jordan-esque spillage, it’s simply the figure you get from a bra that fits.
  6. “You won’t find anything that’s not a training bra.” Simply a terrible shame tactic to try and get you to purchase something. As readers of this blog will know, it is possible with a little persistence to find grown-up lingerie that comes in smaller sizes.
  7. “We do these fab chicken fillets…” If the bra needs fillets to ‘fit’ you, it doesn’t actually fit, and the fitter suggesting this probably means that they don’t carry your true size. For many, there is a time and a place for fillets, but the fitting room is not it.
  8. “You can’t be an A if you’re a 40 back.” Women come in all shapes and sizes, so whether you’re a size 8 or a 18, it’s perfectly possible to be an A cup. If there’s a 1in difference between your true underbust measurement and overbust measurement, you’re an A. ½in, you’re a AA. Less than ½in and you’re a AAA. Simple!

Have you heard any other awful quips from fitters about smaller busts? Let us know in the comments!

*Susannah worked fora high street lingerie store  for almost 4 years.  She says, “I had an amazing manager. She previously worked for a lingerie boutique and was determined to pass her fitting knowledge on to the rest of the store. I caught the fitting bug and am trying to share it with others now!”

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11 Responses to “Where Bra Fitters Get It Wrong With Small Busts”

  1. Katrina says:

    A few months ago I went into Victoria’s Secret and had a bad experience. I had been wearing 32As, but I knew they were too big. The salesgirl measured me and says “You’re a 30A! They don’t eve make that size!” (I don’t know who she meant by “they”; there certainly are 30A bras out there, even VS carries some in a very limited number of styles on their website.) Then the girl looks at me, giggles, and says “well, at least you’re skinny!!” She then tried to sell me a 32A bra, and I walked out. Victoria’s Secret got an angry letter from me, for sure! The company sent me a 30% coupon as compensation, but of course I could only use it in-store so there was no ordering a correctly fitting bra from their website. I wet to a different store but when I told the salesgirl my size, she directed me to the 32As and then didn’t want to be bothered with me!

    I am done with Victoria’s Secret, at least for bras. Why would I want to shop some place that doesn’t care about my needs as a customer? I already know I’m skinny with a small bust; I don’t need it pointed out to me when all I want is a decent fitting, good quality bra that’s made for an adult and not a 10-year-old.

  2. Karen says:

    I am constantly having saleswomen tell me I must be a 34A. I can wear a 34A… if I want to feel constricted all day and then have red welts in my skin when I take the bra off. 36 – that works, but finding 36A bras in regular stores? Not much there. I even had one fitter at Victoria’s Secret insist I was probably a 34B. And really I’m probably somewhere between A and AA. In one department store lingerie department, which I was browsing out of curiosity, the saleswoman had never heard of AA.

    Most of my bras are indeed Victoria’s Secret 36A – some do exist, some are even in stores. But I always feel like some sort of freak when I go in there, since most of what they carry is definitely not in my size.

  3. helen says:

    I hate shopping for bras. I’m always on the verge of punching the sales assistant lights out! I’m always left with the training bra section or having to compromise with size. I got fitted once and the sales lady told me it didn’t matter what cup size i was as long as the back fitted?! It would be nice to walk into a shop and not feel judged and sniggered at when asking for a 30a bra! X

  4. Katrina, I can’t explain how much I don’t like Victoria’s Secret – I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who was happy with their fitting service! From what I’ve heard, they make every woman who isn’t a true 32B-36D feel like a complete freak, which is absolutely horrific – plus their actual fitting skills are exceptionally poor. I feel so sorry you were put through that.

    Karen, I think the biggest indicator of a well fitting bra is comfort. Also, most people (including ‘fitters’) forget that the cup is all to do with the volume of your breasts, not how much they protrude, so it’s likely the red welts you talk of getting in a 34A are due to the wires in the cup not being wide enough to contain all of your breast tissue, probably why you find a 36A much more comfy. Out of interest, if you don’t mind saying, what does your underbust measure?

    Susannah xx

  5. Janie says:

    I haven’t worn a bra in several years. I’m not a hippie or anything, either. I just don’t think they’re healthy or comfortable and I’m much happier without one. I wear tank tops under my clothes when necessary.

  6. Scarlett says:

    Apparently most salespersons seem to have been ‘trained’ to believe that bodies only come in a set of standard sizes. Anything the tape measure tells them that suggests an individual falls outside of these ‘standards’ is summarily disregarded.

    I have had one single bra-fitting/trying on experience which did NOT involve a) incredulity that I didn’t want the mega-added bra b) comments about my body/breast size that I found inappropriate/degrading or c) being dismissively told that they don’t carry my size (32A) in non-padded/unlined without looking. This was at the Agent Provocateur shop in London, which I suppose is only helpful if you are rich and live in London (I’m neither).

  7. The Lamb says:

    This is so true, every time I’ve been fitted at least 3 of these has happened to me! I eventually just took things into my own hands an learnt how to find bras that work for me without any help!
    Also as a very small chested, fledgling lingerie blogger who’s spent years struggling with having small breasts in a big breasted world this blog is so inspiring and I wish I’d discovered it sooner!

  8. Jes says:

    Spot on, lack of training and desire to help. That is why more ladies are shopping online for lingerie as they don’t wish to be discriminated against being small or large. We don’t all look like barbie dolls.

  9. Sarah says:

    Brilliant post, thank you! “Besides, why should you have to miss out on cute and sexy undies?” – completely agree :)


  10. Karen says:

    Oh good heavens – sorry, Susannah, for never answering – this just showed up in my RSS feed, a scant four months after the initial posts! I don’t know if you’ll even see this, but I do actually measure out at 34 – so maybe it is the underwire? Interesting idea.

  11. Lori says:

    I finally found a shop nearby that has a great fitter, problem would be lack of small size bras. Just found the LittleWoman site and the other problem would be international sale adds to the cost.

    32AA or 31AA technically and found Atlantis Panache that fits perfect. Already obsolete since they discontinued the bra. At $54 a bra buying 3 put me back a ton. Would have bought every one they had except spending $150 on three bras was a bit of a shock! Training bras for a 50 year old is more than sad. I’m happy with my size, just need bra makers to realize that big boobs are not a requirement for being a woman.

    Way back at 16 a sales clerk/fitter told me that girls my age shouldn’t be wearing a bra. I think she assumed I was under 13. Tears and lots of frustration have been typical of what I feel when shopping for bras. I hate bra shopping!! I actually went to a shop that didn’t have a single regular bra that I could wear, tried ordering one in “my size” didn’t work and then had to use store credit to get my money back. The only thing I could find to buy was a chemise that I wear as a night gown.

    Thanks for putting all of this together.

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