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RetailIamA bra fitter at a chain of bra stores. AMA!

Jun 23rd 2016 by bragirlthrowawa • 22 Questions • 280 Points

My short bio: I started in my store as a sales associate, and have completed a bra fitting training program. I have worked through crazy seasons (Christmas!) and also insanely slow periods, where the store might be empty for hours. I've fitted all sorts of boobs, and am a wee bit of a bra nerd! AMA!

My Proof: http://imgur.com/CZ1r7OE http://imgur.com/DtoaUZC http://imgur.com/i2MVfHK

EDIT: everyone should know about /r/abrathatfits They are very helpful, knowledgeable, and full of bra suggestions :)

Q:

Have you ever had a customer that made you feel uncomfortable?

A:

Well it's usually a surprise when you walk in to a changing room and the lady is naked to the waist, but you very quickly desensitize to that (or at least learn not to squeal as though elvis just jumped out from between their tits!)

Luckily I've never encountered a true creeper, but older, or post pregnant women tend to tell your faaaaar too much about the health of "the girls", how they changed, lactation etc.

Occasionally a guy asks "do you think these will fit" in regards to boxers, I just avoid eye contact with his crotch, and direct him towards the sizing charts.

Also, when I am making small talk with a guy, who looks a bit at odds with the whole bra shopping experience, and I say "bet you wish you weren't here", all I expect is an uncomfortable laugh. Not a comment implying he's gonna "get some tonight". TMI dude.


Q:

Ha! At odds with the bra shopping experience. You would love (or hate) my boyfriend. He LOVES picking out lingerie for me. Like, I had to ban him from dragging me into lingerie shops. He is not awkward at all about it and will grab piles of stuff for me to try on. I had to replace all my bras this year (my last batch wore out after 5 years of wear and tear) and he had a BLAST. Me, not so much. The sales associates at the shop always act very sympathetic to him. I can assure them, no sympathy needed. It was his idea to have me spend 3 hours trying on lacy things. He also has a thing for me in dresses. I have to drag him out of clothing shops sometimes.

And he likes to critique project runway with me.

I prefer a guy like that who is confident in their sexuality to the guys in my D&D group who freak out if I loan them my pink and purple dice when they forget theirs.

A:

Man he sounds like a keeper! There's honestly no reason to feel awkward in a lingerie store, we honestly don't think guys are shopping for themselves. (Unless they are, then we know) You arent gonna lose your man card for buying your girlfriend some sexy lingerie!


Q:

My wife spent years working at Victoria's Secret, and she said her favorite were guys that would hold lingerie up and look at her and say "you're about my wifes size". Has this happened to you?

A:

Not me personally (luckily!) but we do get a lot of lost looking men. The real winner is when they bring up a bra in a 36F and a pair of XS panties.....either she looks like an ice cream cone, or there's some wishful thinking going on.


Q:

This might be obvious, but what should I look for when buying a bra? How will I know if it fits right?

A:

There's a couple of quite easy things, but if you don't know what you're looking for it can be overwhelming :)

  1. The cups should not dig in, or be that noticable under clothing. If they are digging in, go up a cup size. If they are gappy, go down a cup size.

  2. The centre panel (gore) should be centre, and usually touch your breastbone (not every style, but most) If it does not touch the breastbone, try going up a cup size.

  3. Always fit the band on the loosest hook. The band should sit horizontally across your back, and you should be able to fit about two fingers under the band. If it digs in, go up a size. If it rides up your back, go down a size. Some issues are just because you are trying an incompatible style, but if a bra almost fits, try it's sister size. This means going down a band and up a cup, or vice versa. 32C, 34B, and 36A are sister sizes :)


Q:

I had a saleswoman tell me the opposite at a high end custom store, claiming it had to dig in so they lasted longer. She was awful to me, pushing me around like I was an amateur at having tits. I really appreciate this AMA.

A:

That's horrible!!! Wearing bras can be bad enough :( (although a comfortable bra should feel like nothing at all!!!) "

Digging in" should never be associated with bras. It's true that many women have never worn properly fitted bras, so "firm" is a new, but not bad sensation. And bras should stop pain, not lead to it!!!! Glad I could help :)


Q:

Are bras as wonderful as Frank Costanza made them out to be?

A:

Sadly I don't know my Seinfeld that we'll, but I assume you mean from "The sniffing accountant"? Hahaha well one thing I can tell you, D is not the biggest!!!!! We sell a 44J, and I believe Norma Sitz is a 42ZZZ


Q:

Do they make them for women with 2 different sized cups?

A:

We don't sell bras with two different cups, but I believe some places will custom make them. We do however sell half and full cup inserts, to even out a small difference.

The best advice I can give someone shopping for two slightly different sizes is to buy for the larger boob, as gaping is faaaaar better than squashing :/


Q:

Have you ever had men come in looking at buying a bra for their "partner" but you're sure they're actually buying it for themselves?

A:

Oh hell yes. Although it's a bit of a give away when they ask to be measured. Pretty sure your girlfriend isn't the same size as you! But we are perfectly happy to help, and most likely won't bat an eye at some guy buying himself a bra.

One guy came in, with his girlfriend, and asked for a fitting. He spoke quite broken English, but we eventually figured HE wanted the fitting as he "wanted some boobs of his own". Well fair enough dude.

At the end of the day, you just learn not to ask questions, if that elderly gentleman wants to buy himself a collection of lacy thongs, it's his business!


Q:

Is or will there be a market for handmade bras that can easily sell at places like etsy?

A:

I'd say definately, especially made to order bras. If you can make a decent bra for less than $100+ (pretty normal for custom sizes) and offer sizes outside the "normal" range, customer will be happy to buy. Also cute brallettes are blowing up at the moment, so a cute one of those should sell easy!


Q:

I buy my bras online from www.brastop.com . They carry large band and cup sizes. They are a UK company and it can be a bit expensive (especially with shipping) but it is better than having only ugly bras.

A:

You'd think they could more creative and make some real cute bras in bigger cup sizes- it's a bigger canvas after all! I dont know why bra manufacturers think "cute" == "tiny"


Q:

I like the way you respond to this guy's untagged /s, on the off chance he's being real. You're good people.

A:

Hey thanks! I figure it might help someone in this thread, if not this guy


Q:

It's not like we never fit guys, so that's not an issue.

wait . . . what?!

A:

Haha yep. Rarely is he a cross dresser, often it's a normal guy (who brings his girlfriend with him) who just wants a bra of his own. I've never personally fitted a guy, but they come in more often than you would think!


Q:

Do you have any advice for a woman with an odd bra size, one that's not commonly found in stores?

A:

I would advise you ask stores what size range they have, as many have a surprising stock. We are actually an outlet store, and stock 28-44, AA-J. But honestly, the larger end of the scale has very little range :(

There are plenty of boutique stores that will custom make bras, but these are quite expensive. Blogs like http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2013/08/bra-sewing-tutorial/ show how to make your own, but finding underwires is almost impossible!

Many seamstresses can alter a bra that nearly fits, our store does this for a few dollars each alteration. Also, https://m.reddit.com/r/ABraThatFits/ has a wonderful community of knowledgeable people, and a plethora of resources for buying bras online.

Bottom line, I would recommend ordering bras online from places that give free returns :)


Q:

Hey, can you tell me how a bra fitting usually works in your shop? I've only seen bra fitting at VS- where they always get it wrong for me- so can you tell me what's different about your store's training/procedure? How do you measure girls with breasts of uneven cup sizes?

A:

We measure over the bra, or a thin shirt. This does put the measurement off a little, but we know how to account for this, and most women feel awkward enough getting fitted without being naked!

The most important thing the measurement tells us is the band size, which is still pretty accurate over clothing. The initial measurements are really only a guideline, as every bra fits differently, this just allows us to start bringing you things to try. With enough experience, you don't actually need the tape measure, you actually know a woman's bra size (roughly) from the moment you see her.

We help with every bra, not just the initial measurement. We keep bringing sizes until it fits. Every bra fits differently, and the measuring tape is not perfect. Yes there is some trial and error, but we get to know the bras quite well, and know pretty quickly if they will fit a woman.

Our training consists of watching the head bra fitter do a heap of fittings. Then when you know how it all goes down, you do the fitting, and she just watches and helps. Then you do fittings on your own, but have to get the head fitter to double check one bra for each woman you fit. This "double checking" period continues until you have completed atleast 5 fittings for EVERY BRAND IN THE STORE plus maternity and sports. After all this we have to do reading on bra structure, breast structure, and breast types (tissue softness, projection etc). This means we have a lot of experience, before we are even fully qualified fitters!

Everyone has two different sized breasts, but rarely is the variance more than a cup size. We just measure, and then get her to try a bra, and keep trying different sizes until one fits. You always fit for the bigger breast, as squashing is horrible. We do sell half cup and full cup boosts, which can help even out the difference

We don't do any of this +4 crap, we tell you your real size. I think alot of issues athat VS come from their limited size range. However, I believe comfort comes before the sale, and I have referred customers to stores that are more likely to carry their size.

For more measurement help, fit help, and bras near you, try /r/abrathatfits

TLDR; measurements are less important bit, we help women find their size in every bra, which could well be different. We do lots of training.


Q:

Do you cop a lot of flak when you measure a woman, and give her her cup size as smaller than her own preconception?

A:

Surprisingly, often it's when you measure them as a larger size. Often women who have lost weight will be quite upset that they haven't lost a lot of weight off their breasts. I had one woman almost break down crying, a small she could not find a "cute" bra in her larger cup size, and was fed up looking.

Also, women who have been wearing the wrong size (often large back, small cup), will get measured, and actually need a much larger cup. Sadly, we do not carry alot of some sizes, and it simply is more difficult to find uncommon sizes.

People generally underestimate their cup size, because "DD" is perceived as porn star huge, when in fact the average bra size is around 34DD. This means I don't often have to tell a woman she is a smaller size than she thought :)

Fun fact, you start to get a feel (no pun intended ;D) for bra sizes, and only need to look at a woman to size her. However, I still use a measuring tape, as I don't want to tell everyone I just ogled their sweater puppies!


Q:

I did a bra size guess vs actual study for a statistics class. I was like 94.2% effective guessing. Some girls called me the "BoobJesus".

A:

Ooohh back up guys, we got the messiah of mammary tissue over here!


Q:

Okay, in your expert opinion, what is the single most perfect pair of boobs you've come across?


Q:

Missed opportunity for Drake and Josh reference

A:

Ah yes my favorite boobs...wait....Megan? MEGAN??!??!?!?


Q:

Is there anything wrong with Victoria's Secret, aside from their fairly unskilled fitters? From reading /r/abrathatfits, it seems like nobody who wants a quality bra shops there.

Also, personal bra fitting questions. Once when I was measured at Victoria's Secret, I was told that I was actually a 30 band, which they don't carry. They explained their "sister sizes" and put me in a 32 D. Are the sister sizes bullshit; am I wearing bras that don't fit properly?

I've also never had a bra with a gore that touched my chest, and when I try going up a cup size, I get huge gaps. Could this be related to the incorrect band size/is there a solution?

Thank you!

A:

Honestly, I have never shopped at VS, as we don't have one here, but I did hear they build their bras with a six month lifespan (capitalism aye!) I have shopped at similar stores, and the back bands are usually quite "soft" and stretch out quickly.

One brand that I adore, that carries a 30, is evolove, you can buy them from bendon (both brick and mortar stores and online). They do tend to run a cup size large.

Sister sizes work for some people and not others. Technically, a 30DD and 32D have the same cup volume, and will have the same overall circumference (both measure 36" overbust). However, the smaller cup will be shallower and wider, with a larger band to cup ratio. So...yeah it works for some people. Not great for projected breasts, or narrow roots.

The gore not "tacking" could be that the cups are too shallow, or simply the bra. Many bras don't tack, especially softer cup ones. The most important thing is that the gore is centre,not overlapping your breast tissue, and the cups and wires aren't digging in. You could try a moulded cup bra. If the bra fits alright otherwise, you could try Sister sizing, and go down in the back, up in the cup. I know a 28 would be hard to find, but this can sometimes add the depth needed to allow the gore to tack.

Best of luck finding your perfect bra!


Q:

Could I try on a bra over a thin shirt at the store? I feel very uncomfortable undressing in changing rooms

A:

You will always get a better fit trying a bra on its own (that's how you wear it!), but I suppose it would be better to try it over a thin shirt than not at all. Another option: you could take advantage of the store's return policy. If you try it on at home, and it doesn't fit, we're happy to swap it for another size!


Q:

What is the smallest bra size you have fitted? I often hear my larger-breasted friends complaining about "finding the right fit", but would imagine that small-breasted women have similar struggles.

A:

We carry a 30AA, so can fit most people. However, many people need a much smaller band size, especially young girls getting their first bra. I fitted a 26B once, we had to sister size up to a 30AA. I have never seen a bra in a 26 or 28 back in "normal" stores, on expensive custom boutiques. In reality there is a market for them.

Also, larger breasts have a wee bit of "leeway" it might be trouble finding your size, but many styles may fit. However, as smaller breasts tend to be a bit more self supporting, they tend to hold their shape. This means the bra has to be virtually the same shape as the breast, or it just won't fit. Many women are so relieved to find a bra that works, they will just buy that one bra in every color!


Q:

Because people have this weird misconception that "DD" is surgically-enhanced-bigger-than-your-head big, even though it's actually a pretty average size.

Therefore, it's a common size, but it's not a "popular" size.. :/

A:

Many bra manufacturers tend to stop making bras at 36DD, as they think it is "big enough". Not fair and not true!

However, the brands that do make these sizes will often run out, as everyone who needs them will buy them. In my experience, what bra manufacturers think is average, is actually on the smaller side of things. The alphabet doesn't finish at D!!!!!

I would suggest online shopping, as these stores will have an entire warehouse, so can stock more sizes, while brick and mortar stores only have a teeny tiny back room.