If you have large breasts and trouble finding a bra that fits at your local department store or Victoria’s Secret, getting a bra fitting by an expert is absolutely life-changing — chances are you need a bra with a bigger cup size and a smaller band than what you’re currently wearing to give you the support you need.
But what if getting fitted is not an easy option for you? What if you don’t have a local store with a great fitter who knows how to get you into the perfect bra, or stores that carry sizes above a D cup?
I’ve been struggling with this recently. I’d been spoiled by wonderful bra fitters while living for almost a decade in New York and knew what a great fitting bra looked and felt like. A few months ago I noticed that my bras weren’t fitting well anymore–I’d lost some weight, and they were close to a year old–and I set about to replace them, heading to local specialty bra boutiques and Nordstrom, which carries full-busted brands like Freya and Panache.
But for some reason, no one could put me in a bra that worked. None of the stores had much of a selection in big cup sizes like mine, and in what they did carry, they were sold out of my size or didn’t have a style they thought would work for me. So I started ordering bras online in my usual size…except for one problem: they all fit horribly. I was at my wit’s end and had already spent about $40 in return shipping fees for my online mistakes.
Then I read an interview with an online bra store owner who offers Skype fittings over at Invest in Your Chest, one of my favorite DD+ bra blogs. This sounded like a perfect solution! I got in touch with Claire Dumican, owner of Butterfly Collection in Vancouver, and last week had the absolute fantastic experience of being expertly fitted for a bra by someone 2,000 miles away.
So what’s a Skype fitting like, exactly?
First you fill out a short online form to set things up:
I love that even with something simple, like selecting what kind of bra you’d like, you get to choose from options that sound like the norm for smaller busted ladies: “beautiful bras,” “sexy bras,” “pretty bras,” or “gorgeous and comfortable bras.” Um, yes please!
Butterfly Collection then gets in touch to schedule a time for your fitting. The email covers a couple of things:
- They offer to send you a fabric measuring tape for your fitting if you don’t already have one — a simple but thoughtful gesture that made me feel well looked after. It might be online, but it still feels personal!
- They let you know what to expect during the fitting so there are no surprises and no need to worry about changing in front of a stranger online. Here’s how Claire explained it: “If possible you should be in a room where you have privacy for the fitting. You will need to remove your shirt for the fitting but can change in and out of bra off screen to preserve your modesty! The fitting will take between 30 minutes and an hour.”
The Actual Skype Fitting
Claire called me (right on time!) and first off, she is warm, funny, and puts you right at ease. She’s extremely passionate and knowledgeable about helping full-busted ladies get great-fitting bras and feel good about themselves and we had several laughs about what it’s like to have bigger melons over the course of our fitting (she herself wears a 32H). Along with your Skype fitting, Claire gives you a huge boost of confidence in your body which simply does not happen when you order at a more impersonal, larger online bra store.
To get started, she had me remove my sweater (but keep my bra on) so we could properly measure for bra size. For this part, you wear a non-padded, non-molded, non-sports bra. You take your underbust and overbust measurement while she acts as a second set of eyes to make sure you’re not pulling the tape to tight or leaving it too loose and that it’s positioned correctly, lying straight across the back. As you’re measuring she explains what to do so you can measure yourself in the future.
My measurements were:
Around the ribcage, under the bra — 30.5″
Over the fullest part of the breast — 38.25″
After we finished measuring, she had me put my sweater back on, but she’ll often have you change into your favorite bra so she can get a sense of your style and personality as well as how your current bras and styles are fitting. My favorite bra just happened to also be a good bra for measuring!
So here’s the big question: is it embarrassing or uncomfortable to stand there in your bra during a Skype fitting? For me, having done a ton of bra fittings to compare this to, I was honestly more at ease and relaxed during this fitting than during in-person fittings. I actually felt like I had more privacy because you don’t have to change into and out of bras with a fitter in the room or have them adjust your breasts in your bra. I wasn’t in my bra for more than a couple of minutes and Claire is SO professional that I didn’t feel awkward at all. If you have never had a fitting before and are feeling nervous about it, I think a Skype fitting with Claire is the perfect option.
Your Personal Bra Recommendations
When you finish measuring and are back in your top, Claire shares her observations and recommendations and you go over what kinds of bras would work best for your lifestyle. Here’s what my consultation was like:
- First up, my size: My measurements told Claire that I’d be much better served by a 30GG versus a 32G. A 30.5″ underbust measurement meant I was closer to a 30 band size than a 32, which wasn’t snug enough — something she confirmed when she noticed that my band was riding up in the back instead of sitting parallel to the ground.
(Very Important Note: IGNORE all online instructions that tell you to add four or five to your ribcage measurement to get your band size. This is wrong, wrong, wrong and a completely outdated practice that started when bras were made of WHALE BONES that didn’t have any give versus the elastic we use today! Your band size is simply your underbust measurement. For more help, read Butterfly Collection’s fit tips here.)
- Next, bra style: One of the hands-down BEST things about Claire’s fittings versus ordering blindly online is that she assesses the shape of your breast tissue and puts you in bras that work specifically for YOUR breasts. I’d been ordering bras in styles that are just not going to give me a fit I like — and I had no idea! Claire saw that I have breast tissue that starts quite high and ends under my arms, so she recommended a 3-part construction bra in a sturdy but delicate fabric with something softer along the top panel that has some give (like lace). This type of bra will pull in my breast tissue from the sides and at the same time lie nicely along the bouncy, firm tissue up top. The hard lines of molded bras, like the Freya Deco I reviewed last year, won’t sit as nicely along the top of my melons, since they’re a bit too firm for that, but are a great option for women with a different breast shape.
- Finally, we chatted about what I needed based on lifestyle. I play lots of tennis and work out regularly, so some new sports bras for one. A good everyday bra for another (that would be the 3-part construction). And my final wish was for a strapless bra that works with more dress styles than my Fantasie allows.
After the consultation, Claire puts together a selection of 5 bras to start. Shipping in Canada and the US is FREE! Yay! Once you get your bras, Butterfly Collection sends a follow up email to see how the bras are working out. If you’re having any trouble with the fit or the bras or want them to take a look at how the bras are fitting, they’ll book you another Skype appointment (no charge). If you have returns or exchanges, shipping to Butterfly Collection is paid by you.
I can’t wait to get my bras and see what Claire has in store for me and will post with an update on how it all turns out!
To get a sense for Claire’s approachable personality, her inspiring vision for full-busted ladies, and her insightful observations about full-busted topics, you can read her fabulous blog here. A great, and fitting, place to start if you’re nervous about wearing a big-sounding-sized bra? This fantastic post about breaking the D cup barrier!