girl talk

Girl Talk | Bra Fitting - Troubleshooting

It's been a little while since I posted Part 1 - how to find your bra size, so feel free to look back on that post if you missed it. Today we're going to chat about trying bras on, and things to look for to get a good fit.

Here is the process I recommend if you are completely in the dark about what kind of bra fits you best, or you are changing sizes or just acquiring a well fitting bra for the first time.

1. Take 4-6 different styles of bra, in different brands into the fitting room

You may have a preconceived notion of the kind of bra you 'like' or think one style is right for you. I challenge you to think outside the box and grab a variety of styles, from push-up bras to sports bras and anything in between. You might be surprised. Also, the fit of a bras varies dramatically from brand to brand. I find a couple of brands fit me really well (Elle McPherson Intimates, Bendon and Berlei) and other brands, as much as I love them, just aren't for my shape (Pleasure State, Lovable, Calvin Klein).

2. When you try on a bra, the VERY first thing you should do is loosen the shoulder straps

You'll find when bras are on the rack, the shoulder straps are tightened to make them as tidy and 'short' on the rack as possible. You'll want to loosen those straps to halfway or 3/4 way depending on the bra. You'd be amazed at how many times I've had to help a lady out of a torture device with tightened straps.

3. Try on a bra on the loosest hook and eyelet setting

When you hook it up at the back, make sure it's on the loosest setting. Because bras are elastic, they stretch over time. If it fits you only on the tightest hook when it's brand new, it won't last long at all. You need to buy a bra with the option for tightening it as it ages, so it fits well for a longer period of time.
*tip! If you are in between sizes, and the loosest hook is too tight in one size, but the next size up is too big, you can always buy an extender for the smaller size. Most underwear shops will sell the hook and eyelet on a roll, so you can extend the back of the bra slightly. This is not commonly needed, but sometimes it's helpful.

4. Try on the bra properly

I feel like a nanna saying this, but you can't just slap it on and hope for the best, especially if you have a generous bust. The best way to put your bra on is to position the band (under the bust) at the front, holding the ends of the band, bend from the waist slightly and let your bust fall into the cups. Hook it up, straighten up and adjust as necessary. Make sure everything is contained inside the cup and you're not being squished out the bottom, sides or top of the bra.

Now it's the time to assess if a bra fits you or not. Let's look at the band - it should sit firmly and horizontally across your back. If you can't breathe (!) it's too small. If it rides up at the back, it's too large.

How about the cups? If you are spilling out of them, the cup size is too small. If the cups are puckered or have room inside (padded bras) they are too large.

Remember, the band size and cup size work independently of each other (to an extent) If your band is correct but the cups are wrong, you only need to adjust the cup size and vice versa.

Additional tips:

 If you are getting a small amount of 'double decker' cup spillage at the top, consider adjusting the shoulder straps slightly. Sometimes that's all it takes and you don't need a larger cup size (if it's minor)

◆ Some styles work better than others. If you are looking for comfort and support, look for a bra that has wider shoulder straps, a triple hook/eyelet and a sturdier fabric.

◆ If you do any kind of exercise, I cannot stress the necessity for a good sports bra enough. They have been scientifically developed to reduce bounce (by a lot) and they are the most supportive and comfortable bra for when you'd rather be concentrating on exercising  and not being smacked in the face by your boobs ;) Also, when you're older, your breasts will have a better chance of being less saggy, if that kind of thing bothers you (not withstanding child bearing and breast feeding, which is a whole other kettle of fish).

◆ Flesh coloured bras show up less under a white shirt than white bras.

◆ Find a bra that works for your shape. Certain designs will not work for you. Some people can wear spaghetti strap bras, others: impossible. A bra with a half cup might work for one person, others need more coverage up top for proper support. Maybe you need a bra with more structure on the sides, or maybe a bra with a good solid panel in the middle works best for you. Look at the subtle differences when you try on your variety of bras (see step one) and notice the features that do and don't work for you.

After awhile, you'll begin to find a style that suits you, and probably a brand that you like as well. From my experience as a bra fitter, I can suggest that these two bras are a great starting point as they are versatile, comfortable and good quality for basic, everyday use. Plus, they are both available in a bunch of colours, so they don't get too boring.

                         ◆ Bendon Damask                                               ◆ Berlei Barely There

If you have any questions at all, or specific issues you've come across, let me know in the comments below. Everyone is different so I can't possibly cover every issue in one post, but hopefully this helps set a good foundation of knowledge so we can banish poorly fitting bras forever!


Girl Talk | Bra Fitting - Find Your Bra Size

Time for some girl talk, sorry guys! Bras. Love 'em or hate 'em, they're bound to be something you have to deal with at some point as a female. In a past life, I was (and still am, I suppose) a certified, qualified, gold stamped bra fitter. Every male that finds this out will inevitably raise his eyebrows and wonder out loud how I managed to snag the best job in the world. I probably don't need to tell you that the reality is nowhere near as... what? sexy? exciting? I don't know what they think it's like. There are boobs. They are never in bras that fit. I fix(ed) that. The end.

Here's a step by step guide for finding out your correct* size. Make sure you take your measurements while standing up straight, relaxed and wearing a bra, but no extra layers. Keep the tape measure firm against your skin, not too tight and not loose. Exhale before measuring! For the cup measurement, you can use a slightly looser measuring technique. If you are in between measurements, it's best to round up to the next size. All measurements are in cm.

It's important not to use the "size" in inches (in the USA/UK row) as the equivalent of the band measurement for inches. They don't match. Use the dark grey row - and if you measure in inches, either check the other side of the tape measure for a cm measurement, or you convert your inches measurement to cm online.

Finding your correct size is a step in the right direction, but it's only the beginning. Part 2 is going to be about troubleshooting, and finding the right style of bra to suit your specific needs. I'd love it if you could leave any comments with your specific issues, so that I can make sure I cover them in the next post.

*This method works well for regular sizing. Ladies with a more generous cup size than a 'D' might need to take some additional advice from this chart which lists major manufacturers, their sizes and cup size equivalents to measurements. After a D cup, different countries and brands use different cup descriptions, in Australia we use D, DD, E etc, but the USA and Europe are different. I've listed the Australian cup sizes so they may not align with the sizing in your country for the larger cup sizes.


Girl Talk: Skincare

Wow, another day, another new topic up for discussion. I wanted to do a monthly chat on 'girl talk'. The first one up for discussion is the bane of my existence, skincare. Since I was a teenager, I've had problem skin. You can put spots down to hormones, but when they don't go away, and you're no longer a teen, you start to wonder if there's not an underlying problem. (and considering whether some kind of face-covering haircut is actually an option)

When my skin problems started, I visited many doctors, trying to find a solution. I usually got the normal "put this expensive medicated cream on your face, it's part of being young" treatment. After that it was, "try these birth control pills, they'll fix your skin". I saw some improvements here and there, but never any real, lasting solutions. My symptoms included painful acne, sore, red swollen skin and other great side effects like blushing profusely if someone glanced sideways at me (a combination of shyness and overactive capillaries). After years of agony, I happened upon yet another doctor after a particularly painful attack. He took one look at me and said "You have Acne Rosacea. There is no cure." With those words, and some internet pictures later, I was devastated. Right away I went on mild antibiotics to get it under control. I saw a skin specialist and was told that I could control my outbreaks with medication and by avoiding heat - hot food, hot showers, alcohol, spices, exercise, the sun. The advice was to only exercise by swimming and eat only warm, mildly flavoured food, avoid alcohol, especially red wine.

These days, I'm pretty good at knowing what I can and cannot get away with. (I cannot get away with red wine, ever). Here's a list of skincare tips that I've learned over the years - they are specific to my routine, but I'm sure might help some of you out there:
  • Even if your skin is oily, always, always moisturise. Seriously. I don't care how oily it is.
  • Use a non-foaming cleanser (or lightly foaming if you must) Foaming cleansers strip your skin of it's natural defences and agitate it more, especially when you already have a breakout.
  • Don't exfoliate all the time - for the same reason you shouldn't use the foaming cleanser. My skin specialist actually told me to NEVER exfoliate but I cheat once a week or so. Her advice was to use an AHA, but I find a very gentle scrub works for me (I'm stubborn, I know).
  • If you get a breakout, don't bother it! It's tempting to get the gross stuff out of your face (I'm trying to make this as un-gross as possible!), but don't do it. A dab of tea-tree oil on the spot is the best treatment. It kills all the nasties and in a day or two, the spot will be greatly diminished.
  • Wear sunscreen. It's the best way to keep your skin looking healthy as you age, plus it offers protection against skin cancer.
I've tried many products over the years, here are some that I swear by:


1 ◆ Aesop Fabulous Face Cleanser - I'm using this one right now, it's a light foaming formula, but doesn't irritate my sensitive skin.
2 ◆ NCD Concentrated Cleanser - this is a gentle cream cleanser that works well on eye makeup too
3 ◆ This Works Clean Skin Gentle Cleanser - As the name says...


4 ◆ Philosophy Hope In A Jar - It has a slightly strange texture, but it is non-greasy and works great
5 ◆ Perricone MD Cold Plasma - If only I had smellavision right now. This is the best moisturiser I've ever used. The first time I put it on, I wanted to tear my face off, it smells SO bad. That said, if I was a rich girl, I'd use it all the time. You get used to the smell and it's amazing for your skin (it's super fishy)
6 ◆ St.Ives Timeless Skin Collagen Elastic Facial Moisturiser - super affordable, I've just started using it and it is going well so far. I've had a few breakouts, but I think they are food related (thanks Christmas)


7 ◆ Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel - The packet says 'daily' but I use these once a week (or less because I'm forgetful). They leave your skin feeling fresh and smooth (they're a little burn-y at first, which always concerns me, but I haven't had any reactions to them at all)
8 ◆ Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant - Again, not a daily use item. But it's the gentlest of all of these exfoliants. It's a very fine powder that you can mix into your cleanser when you wash your face.
9 ◆ Aesop Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste - I like this stuff, but I think my dermatologist would weep. It's fairly gritty, so again, use it sparingly. I like the texture and smell, too.


10 ◆ Tea Tree Oil - Get the 100% pure variety, forget all the strange lotions and creams. This stuff will dry your skin out, so target spots directly with a q-tip. Also, broken skin + tea tree oil = ouch! It's potent and can be painful, so water it down a little before applying and try to avoid any broken skin.

I'd love to know about your skincare challenges and solutions. After years of never knowing if I would wake up with a swollen, bumpy bright red face, I feel much more in control of my skin. If you think you might have Acne Rosacea, see your skin specialist for a proper consultation and treatment, it made the world of difference to me.

If you have any specific topics that you would like to "Girl Talk" about, feel free to leave suggestions in the comments, or email me.


*Any comments left via mobile devices will need to be manually added by me, as Intense Debate is no longer compatible with the mobile templates on blogger. I am in the process of switching my commenting system to a new provider so please be patient. Your comments will still be published. I'm so sorry for the inconvenience.