What is your most frequent struggle with bras? (straps, padding, etc)
My most frequent struggle with bras is a combination of a bunch of things. The first hurdle is my height. I'm 4'11" with a 8.5" distance between my shoulders and underbust; my torso measurement from the top of my hipbone to shoulder is 16". So, I have to wear halfcups or balconette bras; otherwise the cups are too tall for me. I have run into bras that did not allow me to shorten the straps enough as well.
This issue is further complicated by the fact that most women in my size have shallow breasts, and due to 3 pregnancies and breastfeeding my children cumulatively for almost 5 years, my breasts have lost their shallow shape and I now have bottom heavy breasts; and I have a very difficult time finding bras in my size that will accommodate to my needs. My breasts are also very soft, so I can't wear plunges, since even in the correct size, my breasts don't like to stay put and tend to fall out in the cleavage area. I also have very narrow breasts too!
Tell us about your ideal bra shopping experience.
My ideal bra shopping experience actually has happened. I went to the store, was approached by a sales associate asking if I needed help finding anything, and I told her my size, and some fitting issues I've had previously. She didn't bat an eye, or question my judgement. She asked permission to see how I fit in bras, and proceeded to bring me roughly 2 dozen bras. We only found one that worked perfectly, and one that was near perfect with the intent of having it altered down in the band.
At the end of the experience, I asked her "Just to be sure, did you bring in all the bras that you have in stock and in my size for me to try on?" She replied with the perfect answer, "No. I brought all the bras in your size that I think will work with your shape." That pretty much sealed the deal for me; someone who knew what they were doing, who knew how to troubleshoot fit and shape issues, and someone who did not try to squish me into a bra that didn't work to make a sale.
What size had you been wearing previously? What size are you wearing now after being re-measured?
I was wearing bras in 4 different sizes; 32B, 34B, 32C, 32D. I actually started this bra fitting enlightenment in a 32DD and tissue migration happened, which bumped me up into a 32E/30F; rather than buy bras in that size, I decided to wean my 20 month old son and wait for my milk production to stop before remeasuring myself. My current bras are 30E.
What do you like most about a bra? What do you like least?
My favorite thing about bras is how it supports my breasts! I enjoy having breasts, and I like to keep them comfortable and in their proper place; wearing a bra helps with this! I don't have any dislikes about bras that fit me properly; I just wish that it was acceptable by society to walk around braless sometimes!
What type of bras do you like to wear?
By far my favorite type of bra has been a padded halfcup. I also like balconette styles too. This is mostly due out of necessity, but really they give me the proper support and shape; that's really all I can ask out of my bras!
Any other input/advice/rants?
My biggest rant is the sheer number of bras that I've tried on.. to date it's been around seventy. I tried on bras that were too big, too small, or the wrong shape in both too small and too large cups. A small number of bras would have maybe worked if they were in a larger cup; unfortunately I size out of certain brands in my band size.
I feel that the most important thing a woman can do is become familiar with how a bra is truly supposed to fit. We've been conditioned by society that if we don't fit into a specific range of bras, we have 'abnormal breasts' and that fitting issues are our fault, not the fault of the manufacturer in only producing limited sizes. Also, because most women do not fit in such a limited range of sizes, we are confronted with advertisements of women wearing ill fitting bras; so by being exposed to these images, we're given the wrong idea of how bras are supposed to fit.
And of course, we need to remind ourselves we aren't freakish or abnormal. We're all beautiful women and it's just a matter of finding a bra that fits us, our shape and our size, rather than trying to fit into bras that are wrong for our shape and that are in the wrong size.