A Way Out of the Full Bust Bra Fitting Desert with My Bra Concierge

When I fit a customer into my shirts in person, I often take along a set of bras in a range of sizes. That way, when I measure a woman with a 31″ waist and a 40″ bust who is wearing a 36DD bra like the woman below, I can show her how a better-fitting bra makes a better-fitting shirt. In this case, a 32G bra did the trick.

bra difference before after

It’s another story when a woman emails her measurements and bra size to me before placing an order online. Then I have to remind myself that they came to buy a shirt, not a bra. However, when Sharon (not her real name) from Wisconsin told me she had the same measurements as the woman above and that she wore a 38D bra, I couldn’t help myself.

“Are you happy with your 38D bra?” I asked.

“I struggle with bras, but I have spent a fortune on them,” she answered.

I knew of a great lingerie store an hour away from her, but a quick check on Yelp showed complaints that the store was now cutting the size tags out of its bras! There was no way I could send her there. I also didn’t feel comfortable fitting her by email and giving her a shopping list at Bare Necessities.

Instead, I remembered My Bra Concierge (which purchases advertising space on this blog). When I met Jenn Baker and Velaire Elliot in April, they told me that they had also grown up in small towns with limited bra shopping options, so I knew my customer who lived hours away from a reputable bra fitter would have a special place in their hearts.

Regardless of their hearts, however, I couldn’t recommend My Bra Concierge without trying it first, and since my last fitting was for Ewa Michalak, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to find my current fit in the mainstream busty brands. Armed with the discount code you see in their ad, I began their TruFit Survey.

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What’s to Blame–the Bra, the Bust, or Something Else?

Our friends shared their U.S. Open tickets with us on Monday night, and if I had realized who was playing, I would have been even more excited than I already was. No, I wasn’t excited about Maria Sharipova’s return to Grand Slam tennis. I was excited when I found out her rival was Simona Halep, the player who had had a breast reduction in 2009 and supposedly went from a 34DD . . .

Simona-Halep-at-Wimbledon-988732

. . . to a 34C.

simona halep smallerMr. Campbell told me about her a couple of years ago, saying she had blamed her lack of success on her large chest but that the surgery hadn’t made a difference. Maybe it did because she is now No. 2 seed!

As you know, at Hourglassy we don’t judge anyone for getting a reduction. How you decide to live with your chest is up to you. We’re just here to help women who want to live large with a large chest.

With that being said, now that I’ve raised the subject, I’m almost tempted to follow with, “Nothing to see here, folks,” because in interviews Halep insists she hated her large breasts in regular daily living and would have had a reduction whether or not she played professional tennis. That’s nothing new, is it?

But it’s such a high profile reduction that I can’t help musing about it here. Here are my thoughts and questions on the subject, and I’d love to hear yours:

1.Thank God for Serena Williams. If the top female tennis player in the world had also had a reduction, just think of the message to all the young women out there who love playing sports but are beginning to develop larger breasts than their peers. Instead, Serena found a sports bra that worked for her. (We still haven’t tried Berlei.)

Serena Williams of the US hits a return against Venus Williams of the US during the women's singles final on day 13 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 28, 2017. / AFP / PAUL CROCK / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE (Photo credit should read PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images)PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images

2. Between the two of them, the message is more nuanced: do what works for your body and your goals with the best information available to you. I have never seen Williams or Halep side by side, so chime in if you have, but my impression is that Williams’ build is more muscular than Halep’s, and her cup size slightly smaller. Halep complained about the weight of her breasts, and this may be why. (Of course, Williams may not have complained about the weight because she’d found a sports bra that worked for her.)

3. Halep had her reduction in 2009. The Panache sports bra hadn’t even been invented yet. There were only a few of us blogging about living with a large bust. Department stores still labeled anything above a C cup as full-figured. Today I continue to meet women who think a DD is enormous, so imagine the dearth of information available to Halep when she was 17. (The media continues to perpetuate the Double-D’s-are-Enormous myth. Some sources say Halep’s waist measures 26 inches and Williams’ waist measures 28 inches, yet they both presumably wear 34 bands.)

5. While most of us can only imagine the pressure facing a professional athlete in her teens, we all know how it feels to want to shed any possible distraction in pursuit of “the zone”, to be perfectly present and focused on the task at hand. An extra bounce at the bust as you walk into your boss’s office or a bulge at your buttons when you stand up for a presentation can throw off your game. That’s why we rave about great bras and clothes for big busts on this blog (and why I make my shirts). If only every full-busted woman could experience the carefree confidence that comes from clothes that fit.

Simona Halep, of Romania hits against Mari Sharapova during the opening round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) Simona Halep, of Romania hits against Mari Sharapova during the opening round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

And if only the right clothes or a routine surgery were all anyone ever needed to reach her goals. Halep is known for letting opportunities slip through her fingers, and I witnessed this several times on Monday night. That’s going to take more than the right sports bra or a reduction to fix. That’s going to take a lot of hard internal work, something else we can all relate to.

A Big Boob Brainstorm with Three Major Benefits: The Brobe

At Curve last week, I kept admiring one woman’s magenta dress worn over leggings, and when I got the chance to compliment her, she told me, “It’s a bra AND a robe. Come visit my booth!” That’s how I discovered the Brobe.

brobe 3

Benefit #1: Easy Lounging and Boob Sweat Eradicator

Living in super hot Texas, large-breasted founder Allison Schickel hated having to dig out a sports bra to wear while she drank coffee and put on makeup after showering. When a five year search for a simpler solution yielded nothing, she had an epiphany. [Read more…]

My Ewa Michalak Conversion at Levana Bratique (Preaching to the Full Bust Choir)

Leah and I have very different bra-shopping styles. She’s happy hunting down online bargains and returning what doesn’t fit, while I’m happiest in a brick and mortar dressing room.  My only exception is a bra that is only available online. And my only exception to the exception has been Ewa Michalak.

My full-busted friends’ declarations of love for the brand have failed to move me for years. Purchasing a bra from EM seemed like a long distance relationship too difficult to begin let alone maintain: (1) all those styles with confusing letters; (2) stories of inconsistent sizing; (3) international shipping and returns; and (4) language challenges. I decided not to get involved.

Then at a dinner after Curve last February, I sat next to Judy Masucci, the owner of a lingerie store in Pittsburgh, who happened to mention that she stocks Ewa Michalak. My ears perked up immediately–not because I wanted to purchase an EM bra, but because this signaled that Judy was a member of the busty bra cognoscenti. Last week I drove 6.5 hours to her store to have a pop up shop for my shirts and finally to try EM bras in a brick and mortar dressing room.

In all but two bra styles, I wore a 75G. The two exceptions were the Pantera and the Karmnik Biszkopty. The former tends to run bigger in the cup, so I needed a 75FF. In the latter (a plunge nursing bra that Ewa created as a regular plunge bra just for Judy’s customers), I needed a 75GG to keep from spilling into the center.

How very satisfying it was to watch Judy and her assistant pull all these EM soft cup bras out of one drawer for me to try in a single afternoon.

Ewa drawer in my size unpadded

It was even more satisfying to discover the semi-soft Gladzioch bra. I adore the simplicity of a beige seamed bra, and the stiff base is an added bonus. I’m used to “semi-soft” meaning padding on the bottom, but the Gladzioch base seems to be created from a laminate that keeps it from being bulky. This is countered by the stretchy tulle panels along the top of the cups. I happily purchased this bra. [Read more…]