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As I mentioned before, I work in fashion retail. Our target customers are fashion conscious, glamorous mums, and we sell a lot of dresses. I am very much used to advising customers (i.e. strangers) on the fit while they are trying on clothes. (I find that the more money a customer has to spend, the more they require your assistance and opinion, which I think is quite strange! If I had loads of money and could afford anything, I would have a lot more choice than I do now, therefore it would be much easier for me to decide on the perfect pieces!) Anyway…

Most of the women trying our dresses on are in their 30s or 40s, but often I find myself having to advise women in their 50s or 60s. This situation is usually a bit awkward for me (I’m in my 30s and look younger than my age), having to convince older ladies that they have lice legs, that the below-the-knee dress length is not too short for them, or that they are not too old to wear a particular style – without sounding insincere. Will they really accept any advice from a woman half their age? I always try to be as honest as possible, and it helps that most women shopping at our store have good taste and judgement. But I also regularly get customers who try on a dress, find that the waist is “too high” or “too tight”, then try on a bigger size, find that it’s just really big everywhere, then decide that the fit is simply “not right”. While this is happening, all I can do is stand there, saying things like “Hmmm, maybe…”, and at the same time shouting inside: “Your bra is the wrong size!! Your boobs are not being held up at all, they are hanging down by your waist, that’s why you think the waist of the dress is too small!! If you were wearing the correct size bra, the waist of the dress would be on your actual waist and not on top of your boobs!!”

Here are just a couple of pictures to illustrate what I mean…

Drew Barrymore - with or without a bra

The Sagging - by Target Marketing for The Boobie Trap

This is a very difficult situation, it makes me want to cry. I can’t tell those poor ladies that they are wearing the wrong size bra without offending them! But someone needs to tell them!!! Their bra fitters maybe?? The chances are though, that they are wearing the incorrect size BECAUSE OF their bra fitters!! All these poor women who got fitted at M&S and the like, using their plain wrong plus four method, now can’t even find a dress that fits them as a result!! This makes me really really angry!! And the “plus four method” is still everywhere!!

I measure 29 inches across my ribcage and 37 inches across the fullest part of my bust. I wear bras that are either 30F or 28FF depending on the brand. The band measurements of all of my bras clearly correspond to my ribcage measurement (I measure 29″ so wear a 28″ or 30″). I get fitted at Bravissimo, which I highly recommend for everyone. Below are a few examples of popular retailers’ outrageous bra (ill-)fitting guides.

M&S Bra Fitting MIS-GUIDE

These all suggest that my bra size is 34D/34DD. Incidentally, my mother wears size 34DD bras. When I put on her bras, the cup fits ok. The back doesn’t simply ride up however – I can tie the band of the bra in a knot, it is so loose!!! It clearly and obviously does not fit me!

Sadly, I don’t think there is an OK way to tell strangers they are wearing the incorrect bra size, unless you are a bra fitter (and the stranger is a customer you are fitting). So if the responsibility is yours, but you’re doing a lousy job, all those poor ladies that come to my shop are doomed forever!!

Bad bra fitting advice by retailers should be considered a CRIME!!!