Bra fittings. They're a bit like booking a dental appointment. Or paying the energy bill. Something you keep meaning to do but never quite get round to. So it's alarming, but not really surprising, that when Triumph surveyed more than 10,000 women last year they found that over 76% were wearing the wrong size. So I set off to their flagship store in Covent Garden, London, to see if I in fact was wearing the wrong size.
Whipping out her tape measure my in-store fitter Sarah tells me us girls should be getting fitted every six months. ‘As a woman your weight fluctuates from month to month plus every bra differs,’ she explains. Given the fact that it's a free service and much quicker and painless than, say, trying to find a new pair of jeans, I'm surprised more women don't avail of it. Sarah doesn't bother measuring my cup size explaining that every bra style differs so it's essential to try on a variety and find what works best. Within minutes my rail in the changing room is brimming with options which Sarah talks me through. There's moulded – ideal for wearing under t-shirts as they give a smooth fit; wired – for when you want more shape; balconette – best for a fuller cup size who want more support and finally non-wired, that although look very pretty on the hanger, are only ideal if you don't need support when running for a bus.
I begin by trying on a simple, moulded style. I think it fits fine but Sarah quickly intervenes explaining that it's not sitting flat on the chest so it’s swiftly ruled out. On goes option two and out comes Sarah's pearls of bra fitting wisdom. According to her, the back strap should feel firm but it shouldn't pinch. If you can slide your little finger under it, that's good. Anything more and it's too loose. Wiring should not leave marks. If it does, it's the wrong size. The shoulder straps shouldn't slip off throughout the day so choose a style where they can be originally adjusted all the way from the back to the front to prevent this. And finally, the correct fit might not always be how you expected or wanted your bust to look. Everyday Sarah comes across women who want a deep cleavage and a full cup, so they substitute the fit for how it looks instead. In fact, in the UK 29% of us make a purchase fully knowing that it is not the right fit. But as Sarah explains, this is fine for a third date night, but if worn everyday could eventually lead to drooping.
After trying on a dozen different styles I settle on a pretty, lilac wired version. Not only do I like the look of it, I feel great in it too, knowing that the back strap is the correct width and the straps aren't too tight – questions that without being fitted I'd probably still be pondering on the bus home. I've promised to return in six months for a refit but I can't guarantee to take Sarah's advice and hand-wash, rather than machine wash, all my bras to preserve their longevity. After all, isn't that what the low temperature option is for?
Did you know?
Triumph use fruit names to describe the different shapes of boobs they design for. Sounds strange but actually makes perfect sense. We spoke to Monica Harrington, product manager and fit expert at Triumph who filled us in on what suits what...
'Lemon shaped - East to West. Suitable bra would be the Magic Wire Push Up Bra to give added support and better projection, Sheer Velvet Sensation, BMU Push Up or Sculpting Sensation.'
'Melon shaped - full, rounded breast. Best suited to be a minimiser which is designed to visually reduce the bust like this one, the contouring Sensation W01 bra in deep water.'
'Cranberry shaped - the smaller shaped breast. A suitable bra would be the Amourette 300 padded bra for support, comfort and padding.'
'Banana shaped - coat hook shape. A balconette bra designed to lift the breast and give a balconette finish like the beauty-full WDP Bra or maybe the BMU Magic Wire bra that is strapless.'
'Pear shaped breast. Go for the Amourette spotlight wired and padded bra - for a rounder cup with a smooth finish.'
'Grapefruit shaped breast - fuller breast. Try the the Beauty-full Basics bra.'