Learning to love me more (again)

Disclaimer: I’m not gonna write this like an academic article with great paragraphing and points that flow smoothly from one to the other. This is a way to process my brain stuff from the last couple of months to figure my shit out, but I think it’ll still be a good read and hopefully help other people deal with some shit too. So, if you don’t like stream of consciousness stuff and random paragraphs, *shrugs*.

 

A few weeks ago I had a photoshoot in a forest beside the river with my friend, photographer and fricking inspirational goddess, Dalyce Wilson (here and here). I only met Dalyce in March of this year. I think I desperately needed someone who understood that I wasn’t getting over my broken heart, and we bonded over the sadness while laughing through the ridiculousness of it all. Do you ever meet someone and like, ten minutes into your first conversation with them you’re just thinking, this is going to be an Important Person? Dalyce is one of those people. I just instantly felt so comfortable with her, like I could say anything and it wouldn’t be judged, but that I’d find some sort of answer or solace or understanding through talking to her. She left last week for Thailand on a one way ticket, and I never said goodbye to her even though I meant to. It was my typical anxiety-ridden, talk about doing stuff then drop off the face of the earth thing that I do quite a lot. I’m pretty sure she’ll understand, and also that she was probably too busy getting ready to worry about it too much. I’m also pretty sure that I’ll see her again some day and we can just pick up where we left off.

Anyway. We’d talked about doing a photoshoot for ages, because we were both craving some sort of creative collaboration. I had all these ideas and visions, but when it came to the day all creativity seemed to have left me with my confidence and self-assurance (which have been in hiding for a little while), but I felt like I was in good hands with Dalyce. Also, it’s really fucking weird getting your photo taken in your underwear by an actual person when you’re used to just propping your iPhone up and taking selfies in your room. Not weird in a scary way. Dalyce wouldn’t make you feel like that. But it’s easier to do dumb poses by yourself than to try and do them in front of someone else and act like that’s totally normal. Dalyce was good at directing me though, and once I warmed up it felt pretty good. I didn’t even try to hide when families and cyclists were passing by.

I felt so energised and inspired after the shoot, which is kind of a normal feeling after being with Dalyce cuz she just exudes that woman magic – I hate myself for saying that but it’s the best way I can describe it. I was more motivated and felt slightly more equipped to keep pushing through the shit that is being unemployed and trying to become self-employed and being 26 and living with my mother and feeling like a lost 16 year old and losing all confidence in myself and trying to ignore the dark, negative thoughts I thought I’d pushed away forever years ago and trying to remember how to deal with hating my body when I only just learnt how to love it and feeling sort of worthless and pointless and pathetic but not wanting to give up. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit stuff like that when you’ve created this online presence and preach about body positivity and believe so strongly in the message that all bodies are good and beautiful and normal, but then one day look at your own and suddenly it’s changed and this time you don’t know how to accept it and be positive and love it. I’ve been looking at my body lately and the immediate thoughts I have are so negative and destructive and just SAD. I haven’t felt this way in such a long time. I got used to being pretty happy, and confident, and self-assured and really believing in myself. I got used to looking at myself and loving what I saw, and not giving a shit what people thought or said about me. I guess I kind of forgot that I’m still just a human. Things change. And especially when you’ve already dealt with the good old depression, and “got over it”, you feel like you’re cured somehow and that you couldn’t ever possibly feel bad again. It super sucks, but that is just not how life works. Mental health is a journey in itself. It isn’t something that stays one way forever. And sometimes a bunch of stuff happens all at once, so it makes everything seem so much worse and harder to deal with. But hey, I’m still here and I’m pretty sure I’m doing the best I can, which is all we can ever ask for.

So, a couple of days after the shoot, I got the photos from Dalyce. I was so excited to see them and the first couple I looked through I loved. Then I started seeing things I didn’t like. Things I wanted to change. I should’ve stood differently. Angled myself that way, sucked that in, hidden this, worn something else. I noticed how much weight I’d gained and all I could think was that it was bad, shameful, disgusting. But then I saw this photo:

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I know it doesn’t show an awful lot of me or my body, but, it also kind of does show a lot of me. I saw a bunch of little things all at once that would have made me sad the day before. Seeing it did make me cry, but it was happy cry. It was relief, and love, and release. I saw stretch marks, hairy arms, scars, fat that wasn’t there a couple of months ago and fat that has always been there. I saw some breast tissue falling out of my bra which as a bra fitter makes me cringe but as a human, I can accept it and see past it. I also really fucking love my tornado tattoo and what it means to me. And this is just such a beautiful photo. I looked through the rest of the photos and still picked out the things I didn’t like. About myself. The photos are so gorgeous, because Dalyce is super talented and sees beauty in so much. But no, the photos are also gorgeous because I’m in them. I had to keep reminding myself that when I was standing in the middle of those trees where anyone could pass by, I wasn’t thinking about my fat or stretch marks or boobs or anything else. I was barely even conscious of my body or how I looked. I was just having a really good time with my friend. It was peaceful and relaxing and so badly needed. I want to share a load of the photos from that shoot, because I really do love most of them. But even though there are ones I don’t like as much, and in most of them can pick out things that bother me, I’m going to write something I love about myself in each one. I’d highly recommend everyone do something like this for themselves with their own photos.

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I like how in the first photo, I’m making the exact same face my great-grandmother is making in a photo I only recently saw of her. I like how dark my hair is, and how my skin looks in this light.

I have terrible posture from years of trying to hide my body, but that’s part of who I am now. I’ve put on weight and my belly is bigger, but that’s one of the most human things to happen and if I was looking at a photo of anybody else with this body, I wouldn’t see anything bad. I like my hands, and the side profile of my nose which I have never liked before.

My lips have a natural pout, which friends have made fun of but it looks pretty good. They are such a nice shape. I have a great smile, and even when I’m taking the piss it still makes for a pretty good photo.

I have a great pair of legs. They work, and they keep going even though I’ve had trouble with my knees for over ten years. They respond to different types of exercise, and heal and get stronger.

My freckles are really pretty and my eyes are amazing.

My face is good and kind and interesting.

I love my cheekbones and my dark eyes. My eyelashes always seem to stand out and my hair is shiny even if I haven’t just washed it.

My back rolls are cute, and so are my front rolls. My face is super cute too, and I know it makes people happy when they see it.

I’m just a person. It’s impossible to love myself all the time, but when I’m not feeling it the best I can do is to not say negative things about myself and try to remember what is good about me. Body positivity, just like life, is a journey. There are setbacks, and obstacles, and bumps in the road. But it’s how we deal with these things and what we learn from them and the kind of person we become through this that is important. And if we really can’t see how beautiful we are, sometimes it’s good to remember that we aren’t our faces and our bodies. We are people with unique and interesting qualities.
I’m kind, caring, passionate, intelligent, ambitious, introverted, funny, anxious, loyal, hardworking, warm, friendly, curious… I’m so much more than my body. But when I remember how to love it and be kind to it, it makes life a whole lot easier.

 

 

(Bra is Clara by Panache, briefs are by Marks and Spencer, suspender belt is by What Katie Did and stockings are by Charnos)

Review: Charlotte Soft Cup by Royce

I get a lot of questions about wire-free options in large cup sizes (cup sized/wire free bras differ from custom made bralettes in that they are designed to be as supportive as wired bras, without the restriction of wires). Until now I’ve only been able to speak from a fitter’s perspective and draw on the experience of fitting people for non-wired bras, so my opinions on these styles are not personal and are largely fit-focussed. However, I’ve recently teamed up with Royce Lingerie who sent me some of their bras to try, so now I feel I can give a more rounded review of wire free bras and offer some more recommendations for those of my readers who have struggled to find styles like this in larger cup sizes.

Royce is a family owned business which launched in 1991 – so,  happy 25th birthday! They specialise completely  in wire free lingerie, offering soft cup bras suitable for pregnancy and nursing, as well as post-mastectomy bras and even teen bras in smaller sizes. I love when lingerie companies create a wide range of products and try to include as many customers as possible. Their designs also go through a lengthy testing process, so you know what you’re wearing has been tried and tested until the team is 100%  satisfied with the end product.

I’ll be honest: I know and respect Royce as a brand, but their product was never something I had an interest in myself outside of fitting. I only knew the styles Bravissimo stocked; Ava, Charlotte and the Impact Free sports bra, and going wire free was not something I felt the need to try. Wires don’t annoy or bother me at all and I never really thought much of the shape non-wired bras give. Many women however choose to wear soft cup bras their whole lives, and the majority that I fitted for Ava and Charlotte were always happy with the styles. Royce sent me the Charlotte soft cup bra in black in a 30HH – I went for this size because I remember it being a little tighter or smaller fitting than most of the wired bras I would fit with daily. I’m glad I chose this size as it is perfect.

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Charlotte is available in sizes 28DD-J, 30-32DD-K, 34-36 DD-L and 38-40DD-K. It is also one of Royce’s best-selling styles, and after trialling it I can definitely see why. The styling is mostly plain, but the upper section of the cup is a delicate, polka-dotted mesh which adds a sophisticated prettiness to the overall look. The band closes with the normal hook and eye clasps, which is what I think I miss the most when I wear fashion bralets. Even having had one made to my measurements, I really miss that secure feeling of clasps and the option to go tighter if I’m not feeling supported enough. The band feels perfect on Charlotte. In fact, this bra is really, really, ridiculously comfortable. It’s comfortable in a different way to my wired bras. I won’t compare them too much because like I said I don’t find wires uncomfortable. It’s a completely different kind of comfort, but I still feel just as supported and controlled as I do in a wired bra.

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The main area that underwired bras and wire free bras differ in is the shape they each give. Now, I’ve gone on and on about how much I love the shape my Cleos give me and how nothing compares, and that still stands. But I really was surprised by how much I didn’t hate the shape Charlotte gave me. It’s definitely not what I’m used to. I’m not as lifted nor pulled in at the sides, and normally anything that does the opposite makes me shudder, but I honestly don’t mind how I look in Charlotte. The shape is slightly lower and more east to west than I would usually want from a bra, but I also don’t feel self conscious or uncomfortable with my shape in this bra. One thing that really struck me about Charlotte was how much smaller it made me look. Sure, I’ve embraced my size and am generally happy with my boobs, but sometimes we all want to hide or shrink a little, and this bra makes my boobs less obvious. It’s just nice to have the option!

Sometimes you love the look of a bra on its own but then put a top on over it and hate the look it gives. I was worried this would be one of those times, but the shape is quite cute under a tight fitting top. It’s somewhat similar to the shape you might get from a bullet bra, and now I wish I’d had this bra when I wrote my vintage lingerie post! But hey, big boobed vintage lovers – this bra is for you!

Another reason to love Royce is that, on top of their bras that are specifically for women who have had a mastectomy, there is also the option to have pockets added to some of the other bras. So if you don’t like any of the mastectomy bras or they don’t come in your size, you can always check if any of the bras in their pocketable list are suitable for you!

I know this style of bra may not be for everyone, and I thought I’d be one of those people but after trying and wearing Charlotte, I can honestly say that I’m glad it’s now in my lingerie drawer. Perhaps I need to be more open to all the options available to me, and maybe having one or two wire free bras in our collection is a smart investment!

Review: Cantaloupe bikini by Meloncup Swimwear

Meloncup is the brainchild of Natalie McGann, a London College of Fashion graduate who wanted to create sleek and supportive cupsized swimwear for women in the DD+ size bracket. I’ve said before how I’m always excited to see new full bust lines being launched, but I was also encouraged to see that Natalie went through the Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme. I’ve also just done the course as I’m working to start my own business, and if any readers in the UK aged 18-30 are thinking of going self-employed, I would definitely recommend signing up for one of these courses. It’s so inspiring and motivating to see young women becoming their own bosses (cough cough, Nicole of MyMilla).

Natalie sent me the Cantaloupe bikini and high waisted pants in candy floss pink, which I was secretly hoping for after seeing a little sneak peek on Instagram. Y’all know I love a good pair of high waisted knickers. Because Meloncup only just launched, there had only been little glimpses of the line posted before the website went live, so it was exciting not knowing exactly what it would look like. I was really excited then to open it up and see the strappy details on the front and back of the bikini top. 


Strappy, harnessy, bondagey style deetz are the trendiest trend right now, but usually aren’t overly accessible in the full bust world. While smaller busts can generally get away with bras without the traditional hook and eye clasps and loadsa fun straps all over the show, bigger boobs just have to make do with bras with one extra strap. Or layer a body harness over a bra (which does look super cool). So I was pretty excited to see that this bikini didn’t have a normal clasped band, but rather a tie back with four strands from each side creating a striking cage look at the side where the wings of a band would be. I was excited, but also a wee bit concerned that this would not hold my 30H/HH (weight gain has me all over the place right now) boobers up properly. 

I tried putting the top on as I normally would and tying it up with my arms behind my back, but I just couldn’t get it tight enough to hold me up. I had to tie it at the front then twist it round and pull the straps up, which I hate doing cuz it will eventually mess the wires up and probably mean the top won’t last as long as it could. Or I could just make sure someone is around to help me and have them tie the back for me, in a pretty little bow! It works much better than I thought it would, but I think being such a Panache/Cleo fan means I find most other brands are never firm enough for me, which is just a matter of personal preference. It IS supportive enough to walk around in, which is all I would ever do in a bikini. I think I also have to accept the fact that, while cup sized swimwear is wonderful, it never feels quite like a firm bra, nor does it give me the narrow, upfront look I crave. Again, it’s personal preference. This is the shape from the front:


I mean, it looks really nice. There’s nothing bad about it. It’s a little lower and more east-west than I would like, but like I said that’s a thing I find with all bikinis I’ve tried and to be honest, I don’t think people are looking at me on the beach thinking “Jeez, I bet she’d get a better shape from a Cleo bra”. So it ain’t no thang. I’m still a very big fan of this bikini and the strappy back. 

Because the band is more adjustable than one that is for a particular measurement, it means the cups aren’t exactly right on me. There’s a little bit of bunching at the bottom of the cup, which is probably more to do with my boobs being too big, and sometimes the material around the wires flips up if I don’t tie it tight enough. Again, I can’t see it being a massive issue and it doesn’t affect the comfort or supportiveness of it. I should mention that the material is ridiculously soft and feels so good to wear. 

You can see that my boobs are sitting lower than a bra and my bigger boob is popping out a little. I did have the band tied super tight and the straps up quite high though as I like to feel really strapped in.

The level of adjustiveness (if that’s even a word) in these tops means the size guide is different, as one Meloncup size could cover more than one bra size. My bikini top is size “ravishing” and the pants are “beautiful”, which is funny because I am often told how ravishingly beautiful I am. So that worked out well. 

Overall, I am really impressed with the fit and quality of this bikini. It may not be for everyone as the tie back does mean a little less support, but it’s definitely worth a try as I was pleasantly surprised. It’s also nice to see swimwear options in plain colours, as I often find the go-to is either polka dots which bore me after a while, or OTT garish prints. Again, the feel of the material is so smooth, you’ll just wanna rub your boobs the whole time. I’m really excited to see this brand grow and develop, and I really hope you all give it a try!

What I learned shopping for custom made bralettes

Bralettes or bralets, whichever way you wanna spell it – and all the spellchecks on all my devices tell me every  version is incorrect – are huge right now. They’re cute, dainty, fun to layer with or wear on their own. Yeah, I don’t need to list for you all the selling points. You’ll also already know that they generally aren’t easily available or hugely suitable for a fuller bust. Anyone with big boobs knows that things sized S/M/L or by dress size don’t work for us. And the people who make these things usually don’t have a clue about how to make things for our boobs. However, there are some majestic lingerie wizards out there who will make things by hand according to your specific measurements, and I’m going to talk about two designers I bought custom made underwear from, and what I learned along the way.

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Owner and designer Avery Barsony started Bettie Fatal in 2012, and actively practices body positivity by shooting her lines on a diverse range of models. I always feel better buying from brands who are clearly body positive, as it generally means they will give a shit about me as a customer. I’d been following Bettie Fatal for a while on Instagram but the thought to buy a non-wired bralette never really crossed my mind til I saw this post with the caption saying something about working for fuller busts:

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Pink Triangle Bra and High Waisted Pants from the Veisso collection – Bettie Fatal

Usually I don’t really give non-wired styles a second glance because I think my brain is just programmed to go “nah, not for me” and quickly move on. But I really liked the chilled out feeling from the Veisso line, and the vaguely sporty look which is not something I’d normally go for. I’m also instantly attracted to high waisted pants, and these just looked so comfy. I got in touch with Avery, who was very happy to do a custom order for me.

I gave her my underbust and overbust measurements (30″/38″) and sorta thought that would be all you’d need to know to create a well-fitting, soft cup bra for my boobs. It was…pretty close. Lemme be clear, I have nothing negative to say about Avery’s skills as a lingerie designer/maker. The quality of the product is perfect. The material is super soft, breathable and really pleasant to wear. But I’d never ordered anything like this before, and I know now that I should’ve slightly tweaked my measurements. A band 30 inches around stretches to more than that, and a non-wired bralette stretches much more than an underwired bra. I’m so used to firmer bands, and I kind of need that firmness to hold my boobs up properly. So while the Veisso bra is really comfortable and actually makes my boobs look GREAT, I can’t move around an awful lot in it without having to constantly readjust myself. The triangle shape is not the most practical for me, as there just isn’t enough material for MY personal preferences.


I’m not put off by this though. It’s nice to lounge or sleep in, and I still wear the pants separately with other bras. And I would definitely order a Bettie Fatal set again, just doing things a little differently. I would ask for a smaller back measurement so I get a little more hold. I’d also ask for more material covering the boobs, as this is something I learnt from ordering my dino bone print set from Bad Bunny Shop.

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If you know me or follow my Instagram, you most likely know I love dinosaurs. I dunno what it is about them, but they’ve made me happy since I can remember. THE FACT THAT THEY EVEN EXISTED JUST BLOWS MY MIND. Like, THEY WALKED THIS EARTH AND THEY WERE REALLY BIG. Ugh, I wish Jurassic Park was real. I will spend stupid amounts of money on things that are dinosaur related in any way. I JUST GOTTA HAVE ALL THE DINOSAUR THINGS. I’ve talked a few times about how I really wanted dinosaur print underwear, and one of the lovely babes in the Instagram lingerie community (@princeofkatslingerie xoxo) showed me the way. I messaged the owner asking if they did custom orders, and she said YES! So I sent Jenn, owner and designer behind Bad Bunny Shop.

Jenn was so patient and lovely to work with. When she first shipped my order, she sent me a message to say she was worried the bra wouldn’t be high enough at the front, and to just send it back to her if it needed any adjustments. I tried it on when it arrived, and she was right. I also noticed again that the band was super stretchy, so I asked if she could take that in a little bit. She was more than happy to rework the bra for me, and the second time around it was completely perfect. AND NOW I HAVE DINOSAUR UNDERWEAR!!!!


SO, what I learned was to give a smaller underbust measurement to get something supportive enough. Next time I order something like this, I’ll probably ask for a 28″ band. I’ll also ask for way more material at the front. If you can sort of measure the vertical height of you boobs in a bra, this will give you an idea of what you need. Then add 3 inches because in a bralette it still won’t be enough. Adjustable straps are still kind of a necessity, because if you aren’t able to tighten them they’ll just do nothing for you and stretch out really quickly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Most indie designers do really want to work with you and give you exactly what you want. I’m sure I’ll continue to learn more as I delve more into the world of non-wired bralettes. And if you have any tips from your own adventures, feel free to share!

Review: Classic Polka Dot Shirt by Exclusively Kristen

It’s always exciting to me to see more and more companies springing up which cater to fuller busted women – especially when they aren’t solely related to bras or lingerie. Exclusively Kristen is just one of those companies. Founded by  natural entrepreneur Kristen Allen, the company was born out of Kristen’s own frustrations and recognition of the fact that women in the D+ bracket are largely overlooked in the fashion industry. Her clothing is designed to fit busts up to a H cup.

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Image from Exclusively Kristen

If you have bigger boobs, I’m sure you’ll be well aware of the fact that tops, dresses, blouses – basically anything you wear on top very rarely fits the way you’d like it to. Designs and patterns become distorted as they stretch across your bust. Normal length t-shirts become crop tops. Button up shirts gape and look indecent, and safety pins become your best friend. Very often, women with a fuller bust have to buy tops several sizes too big for their body just to fit over their busts, which leaves them with saggy shoulders and shapeless waists. We all know clothes are designed with one particular body shape in mind, and boobs above a D cup are not usually part of the equation. This is unlikely to change anytime soon in the clothing of high street stores, but thankfully, people like Kristen are here to create something new for us.

The clothing from Exclusively Kristen has a slightly professional look, and is intended to be suitable for work wear. This is again another area where women struggle to find appropriate attire. I tend to be a very casual (aka lazy) dresser, and don’t have an office job so was worried I wouldn’t get the wear out of the Classic Polka Dot shirt Kristen very generously sent me, but the cute patter and trendy, contrasting cuffs and collar make it extremely wearable. It would look just as good with black skinny jeans and flats as it would with a smart pencil skirt and heels.

It’s actually surprisingly difficult to take a shirt-selfie. Every one I took looks so wonky, but hopefully you get the idea!

Onto what matters: the fit and quality. While clothing designed with the fuller bust in mind is not the norm, it was not new to me. Many of you may know I worked in Bravissimo, which also has a clothing line (Pepperberry) with a unique sizing system designed to fit and flatter women’s bodies. I had come across Exclusively Kristen a while before I was contacted, and assumed the fit would be similar to Pepperberry. However, Kristen actually asked for my specific measurements and determined which dress size I should go for from that. On the Pepperberry website, there is a calculator which uses your measurements to tell you your ideal Pepperberry size, but I always ended up needing a different size from this, so was worried I would get it wrong here too. Aside from gaining a little extra weight between telling Kristen my measurements and the shirt arriving – the fit is perfect! (For reference, my measurements are (usually!) 38-28-38, and the size 8 shirt fits me beautifully.) The material easily covers my bust, without any weird sagging or extra pockets of material, but also really neatly nips in at my waist. I personally like my clothes to be quite fitted, so when something properly shows off my waist it makes me really happy! There is no gaping at the buttons (after I shifted the weight!) and thankfully the cuffs don’t cut in on my arms. This is something I sometimes struggle with in short sleeved shirts – quite often the cuffs can be too tight and it makes it really uncomfortable when you have to move your arms around.

I really love how it looks on my waist. (Yes I did say it irons easily – but i have a habit of putting crisply ironed closes on then sitting in a heap for several hours so they crinkle again – soz!)

The quality is also really important to note. I couldn’t find anything to fault with this shirt. The material is soft against the skin, and although it is white, it isn’t horrible see through. It’s also 100% cotton which makes it easy to wear in the warm weather (and if you follow me on Instagram I’m sure you’ve read my woes about sweating too much!). It also irons super easily, which is another thing I like, mostly because I’m lazy and hate ironing. Kristen recently informed me that she has changed the placement of the buttons on her shirts, putting a button at the fullest part of the bust to further eliminate any gaping. This surprised me because – aside from the gaping when I was heavier – I couldn’t see that the shirt needed any improvement! But it does make me happy, as it’s so encouraging to see someone who really cares about their product and is constantly working on improving and growing – even if nobody else thinks it needs to improve. Kristen is clearly a perfectionist, and it shows!


All Kristen’s tops are available on the website. Shipping is free in the US and paid shipping is available to several other countries. Stock is also available in The Rack Shack in Brooklyn NY, The Heavy Hanger by Melons: The Complete Bra Shop in Wichita, KS and Broad Lingerie in Toronto, Canada. Be on the look out for pop up shops as well – you can stay up to date by following Exclusively Kristen on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I would highly recommend you give Exclusively Kristen a go – I’m certain it would change your wardrobe for the better!

Book Review: The Breast Life Guide to The Bra Zone by Elisabeth Dale

Yes! A book review! I love books, and I love bras, so imagine my excitement when I first saw Elisabeth Dale of The Breast Life talking about her book, which deals with everything you could possibly think of to do with bras, bra fit, style, sizing, shopping and care. When Elisabeth posted on her Instagram (@thebreastlife) about getting an advance copy to review, I instantly messaged her.

I appreciate that the book is now available to the general public (here) so my review is a little late, but I still have a lot to say about it. Also, as most of my readers are UK based and may not follow all the same lingerie blogs that I do, I’m hoping this will give an extra little boost to interest in Elisabeth’s book, because it really deserves it.

As a trained bra fitter and general lingerie enthusiast, there was not much in this book that I didn’t already know. You’d think that would make it boring to read, but it was the exact opposite. This book is so accessible and easy to follow. It breaks down every aspect of bras and bra fitting that those not previously knowledgeable on this subject may have even thought about. There is not a single point in this book that I disagree with, or can find fault with. In fact, I found myself feeling excited to read something on a subject I’m so passionate about, and had to stop myself enthusiastically shouting “YAAASSSS” at every page.

The Bra Zone is broken down into very simple, short chapters, but manages to cover so much. It’s definitely going to help me be more succinct in how I explain bra stuff to people, as I tend to ramble and get lost when trying to make a point. There is very little lingerie jargon, and if there is, Elisabeth takes the care to explain everything in everyday terms. You’ll find all the information you need to know on finding your true size, different styles of bra and how they work for different shapes, where to shop or read more information, how to care for and store your bras, and little tricks and tips to customise your bras and help prolong their lives. Literally (honestly), everything you need to and have ever wanted to know about bras is in this book. It demystifies the D cup, busts bra and boob myths, and even pictures and names different styles to help better understand different bras.

One thing I loved about this book (and there were so many things) is that the abundance of information on sizes, shapes and styles is not mean to confuse you or make you feel limited, but to show you just how much more is available to you that you thought possible. Elisabeth encourages you to trust yourself when buying bras. Of course, many bra fitters are incredible well trained and knowledgeable, and there are endless resources and blogs out there to help you, but The Bra Zone tells you what we in the lingerie and fitting industry all know, which is not complicated for anyone else to understand. You don’t need to be an expert to take bra matters into your own hands! Most importantly, to me personally, is the genuine and warm body positive message which runs throughout the book. Your body and your boobs will change over time, and that’s okay and perfectly normal. What won’t change is how much this book will continue to help you, no matter how different your body becomes.

The Bra Zone – 10/10, 5 stars, 2 thumbs up! I wish I’d had this book when I first entered my own Bra Zone! (And thank you to Elisabeth for including me in her list of resources and bloggers, I’m still so overwhelmed and excited by that discovery!)

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ME! And I’m included with so many people I admire. Check them out!

Bra Fitting Part Two: The Truth is Out There (now…thanks to me)

I wanted to do a quick follow up to my first bra fitting post, as there are a few things I should have mentioned. And splitting it in to two blog posts makes me feel like I’m being super productive! Do you like the title? I wanted the whimsy you’d expect of a 90s sci-fi/fantasy TV show nerd, with a side of loveable bigheadedness. I recently saw an Instagram bio which stated “humble with a hint of Yoncé”, and I think that’s how I’m going to live my life from now on.

MOVING ON. One of the main important points I missed in my previous posts is that boobs are uneven. ALL BOOBS ARE UNEVEN. They are asymmetrical, just like most things about our bodies. It is TOTALLY normal. As a bra fitter, it is one of the many things you repeat twenty million times on the daily. Some women seem to think it’s a huge deal, and that their lives are ruined and they’ll never find a bra that works for them (I’m not making fun of these women, society (and poorly trained ‘fitters’) has induced this state of panic in them). All ya gots ta do is figure out which boob is bigger and fit to that side. Yeah, if it’s quite a sizeable difference, you may notice it, but it’s just another one of those bra compromises you have to make. Of course, if you’d rather have a lil double boob on one side so the smaller boob isn’t swimming in a cup slightly too big, you do your thang, boo. Some bras will disguise the difference quite well, and some will emphasise it. I’ve found that heavily moulded/padded bras make it more noticeable as the stiffness of the cups won’t mould to your shape. The stretch lace styles from Panache however, seem to work well as the stretchiness moves with you instead of catching like a normal non-stretchy bra cup.

While we’re on the subject of uneven boobs, I want to share a horrible story about a young woman I fitted WAY BACK in the early days of my fitting career. I’d got over the nerves of my first couple of weeks fitting when I wanted to be really technically perfect every single time, and was still getting my head around the fact that not every fit will be perfect or life-changing. I was realising my passion and wanted to give 100000% to every single woman I fitted (WHICH IS HOW IT SHOULD BE). But I was still sort of in this mindset that as a fitter, I should also be a “fixer”, and felt like it was up to me personally to be a body coach, life coach, motivator, therapist, best friend etc to all my customers, and it was exhausting, but also meant I usually spent way longer than I needed to which meant other customers had to wait. I wish I could just be a freelance lingerie consultant (this is honestly something I’m thinking about seriously and in the very SMALL BABY SEEDLING stages of STARTING to THINK about PLANNING) so I could give each customer as long as they want of my time (within reason). BUT ANYWAY OKAY. This gal came in and she was in tears because she’d just been “fitted” in Ann Summer’s. Normally, I would not name and shame places cuz nothing bad has really happened to me personally (except all those times I was fitted incorrectly in my formative, tender, teenage years and had to suffer the judge-y eyes doing a quick up-down over my body, BUT WHATEVS) (SO MANY TANGENTS), but this just really took me to the fair (hey, Fiona xo). This young woman, who was also the exact same age as me so I think that’s partly why I got so involved, was devastated because the assistant at  Ann Summer’s told her they “couldn’t fit her” because of her uneven boobs and that the only way to “fix it” would be to GET PLASTIC SURGERY. It’s been over two years since this happened and it still makes me shake with anger to this day. I took her into the fitting room and she immediately whipped off her top AND bra and pointed at her chest crying and saying “look at them, they’re awful”. And I was like, sweet baby girl there is nothing wrong with you. To be honest, I was expecting her to have a noticeable difference, because some women do have a difference of a couple of cup sizes so it can make fitting a little but more difficult, but this girl was practically perfectly symmetrical. I couldn’t understand how the person who fitted her at Ann Summer’s could have said something so disgustingly, dangerously unprofessional. Even if she did have a big difference between her boobs, HOW VERY DARE YOU??? It is so not the place of someone like that to comment, it’s not anybody’s business to point something like that out and then to suggest something as drastic as plastic surgery. Especially when somebody has gone to you because they trust that you’re going to be able to give them the right advice. They’ve chosen to take their top off and be very vulnerable in front of you, a stranger, and all you can say is “can’t help, soz, get plastic surgery”?? I never have and never will shop at Ann Summer’s because of this (and other reasons like they don’t do my size and it’s just not my jam), and also because when I got home from work still in a rage, I phoned their customer services to complain and the person I spoke to said “oh no, I’ll put it on file” but basically said they couldn’t do anything because I wasn’t the customer, but that she’d certainly make a note of it. NAH, RETRAIN YOUR STAFF TO FIT PROPERLY AND HAVE A LITTLE EMPATHY. Long story short, I fitted the woman perfectly with the first bra I put on her (I still remember exactly what it was, size, colour, everything), but she had such bad body image and probably dysmorphia that she just couldn’t see that there was nothing wrong with her and had decided that she was already going to get plastic surgery. Which is fine, I don’t judge anyone who wants to do that. But there are so many factors which contributed to this beautiful young woman reaching this point, mainly society and it’s massively fucked up beauty standards. I still think about her a lot and hope she’s okay and that she’s found some sort of peace with herself. Man, just DON’T TALK ABOUT PEOPLE’S BODIES.

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Niamh says NO to bodyshaming (wearing Andorra from Panahce, an example of one of the stretch lace styles mentioned below!) So smooth, so balanced.
SECONDLY. And sort of related and I can’t believe I skipped this one out too -BOOB SHAPE. Finding the correct size is sometimes the easiest part for the fitter. Just because you figure out the correct size though doesn’t always mean you’ve immediately found the perfect bra. The shape of your boobs plays a big part in what style of bras will work for you. For example, I’m shallow on top due to my “drastic” weight loss (I say drastic because it was quite a lot, I guess, and it happened relatively quickly). This means that I no longer have a fullness on top which is generally expected of boobs (again, those dratted beauty standards). This is why I love Cleo bras so much. The shape of their wires does something magical to me and lifts everything in just the right way so it looks like I have full, round boobers again. I therefore tend to find it hard to stray from these styles, as I never like the shape just as much. I do own some Freya and Bravissimo styles, because they’re pretty and I’m a fool with money, but I never wear them as often as I don’t love the shape. The wires are wider so they give a more east-west look which just doesn’t do it for me, and because the lift isn’t as good, I just sort of “sit” in the cups and don’t have the same round shape on top. It’s just personal preference, yo. There’s no reason for me not to wear other styles if they’re comfortable. I just prefer certain shapes over others. Figuring out your boob shape can be more awkward, but I’ve found through trying on loads of different brands and styles, it becomes more obvious after really analysing the shape they give me and how my breast tissue sits in the cups and is lifted and such.

 

Thirdly, I think it’s important to briefly point out that the way you put on your bra can help significantly with making sure all dat boob is in the right place, but also with prolonging the life of your bras. I am fully aware that for some people, there is no way to change the way you put on your bras. Issues such as arthritis, frozen shoulders, and mobility problems associated with different disabilities mean that it makes it more difficult to put your bra on a certain way. But, if you are able, do try and put it on front ways. Put your arms through the straps and lift them up to your shoulders, lean forwards as far as you can holding the bottom of the cups so your boobs fall into them, stand up and hook up the clasps, then make any other adjustments you need to. Yeah, it looks weird and it may be awkward if you’re not used to reaching back to do up the clasps, but this is the best way to protect the elastic and wires in your bras. Clasping a bra at the front and swivelling it around can actually twist and distort the wires. I may make a really awkward video of me doing it if you really, really need to see it. How else am I going to get famous?

 

Finally, and very quickly, please please please pleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease handwash your bras and airdry them away from direct heat aka NO RADIATORS OR TUMBLE DRYERS. Hot hot heat is a bra’s worst enemy, as it can wear out the elastic and distort the wires. Do you ever have a brand new bra which gets destroyed after the first wash and dry? Yeah, it’s cuz you shoved it in the washing machine EVEN THOUGH THE LABEL EXPLICITLY SAYS HAND WASH ONLY. Those labels aren’t there just for the craic. It’s very easy to handwash bras too. Just use whichever detergent you would normally use, swish it around in some water, give a lil extra love and scrubbing to the bits that might get more gross aka armpit area, and either hang it up on the washing line or dry it flat on a towel. Mmmmmmkay?

 

You know you love me,

XOXO Bra Girl