I'm trying to capture information regarding only band sizes--I say "only" because I'm not trying to capture data regarding cup sizing at this time--and the various shades of "nude". Thank you for taking the time to complete the survey.
You will need a seamstress tape measure if you don't already know your Snug and Tight band measurements.
Please share the survey with other bra-wearers that you know.
When I started this blog two and a half years ago, I tried on SO.MANY.BRAS!!! I thought it was just a matter of finding the one or two that fit and that would be that. That was in May 2015. I went through four rounds of different bras from Bare Necessities. I was a 36FF, in general, and tried on nearly 100 different styles. A few months later, I found a local bra store and that made trying stuff on so much easier.
Two years ago, I completed my last PT test in my military career and thus began a very torrid affair with Ben...and Jerry. That continued through January 2016 when I had a surgery that required a month of bed-rest recovery. Two months after that, as part of my military retirement celebration, I embarked upon a road trip that took more than two months. It put 12,500 miles on my Jeep...and my ass.
Why do I share this? Because I gained 30 pounds between December 2015 and June 2016. I was SO no longer a 36FF. No problem. Now that I don't have to worry about 12 hour shifts, the weight will just fall off. Uh, nope. So much nope it's not even funny. But, then again, it is. Did I really think that what took me six months to gain would take only one or two to lose? You know how life is what happens when you're busy making plans? Yeah, right here, baby!
The remainder of 2016 was stressful in epic proportions. That weight was going nowhere. It was me who needed to give in and make the adjustment. So I ventured up a little further in my little state of Delaware and found Bare Essentials. That's where I've been doing my shopping for the past year.
In that time, I've learned 1) I don't maintain a static size for very long and 2) Never get rid of bras that don't fit if they're still good 'cause they might fit again, no matter whether they're too big or too small.
So, on with the review...
On my most recent shopping expedition, I bought three of these. As a 36FF, this style didn't fit me but, since I'm not a 36FF any more, I figured why not try them again. For reference sake, the bra calculator on the sidebar puts me at a 36H/38GG. If I remember correctly, I started in the area of 38FF for all the bras that I tried. I have short roots, even (top/bottom) fullness, pendulous, and narrow to medium root width.
This one is the Panache Envy in a 38FF. It's a balconette style which works at this size but, when I was smaller, there was emptiness at the top of the cup. You can see some "flappiness" at the top of the cup in this picture but that results only when my arms are raised vs all the time.
The gore tacks very nicely. It doesn't dig in and it doesn't sit on any part of the inner breast. It is fairly tall though so some may not like this bra if the top of their breasts touch each other.
There are a few areas where I had to compromise on the "perfect fit". The cup doesn't project at the underwire so when I swoop and scoop there is space at the bottom, between my breast and the underwire. But not so much that I didn't buy the bra (or the two others in different colors). It's also a little wide in the cup but, thankfully, the wires aren't that tall so I'm not getting stuck in the armpit.
Another area that lessens me being a fan of this bra is the shoulder strap placement. If you have narrow shoulders, this is NOT the bra for you. In the picture below, I positioned the straps to show how they'd lay if they were in line with where they're sew on the bra itself which ends up being ON my shoulder bone. Most people tend to wear their straps just inside of that, in the little divit instead.
A few more tidbits about the bra:
Although the lace is soft, the rest of the bra is a little stiff and can be itchy. It's a kind of mesh textile that are in many unlined bras nowadays...at least ones that I've seen anyway. Also, even though it's labeled 38, the band doesn't measure that length. Unstretched is 30 inches; stretched is 36 inches. I measure 37 inches in a snug measurement and 34 in a tight one for my underbust.
The smallness of the bra measurement isn't surprising. Panache is notorious for running "small", just as Elomi tends to run "large". Just one of those quirks that brands have. What I'm getting at is: Don't be surprised if you wear a band size larger than your larger underbust measurement. Sizing among brands is known for being inconsistent. Just buy and wear what fits.
Anyone who is on the breast spectrum has probably encountered the problem of too much bounce while running or doing other cardio. When you're outside of the matrix sized sports bras, the problem is even worse. Many of us choose to wear two garments to reduce the ache and pain of bouncing to as little as possible.
When I was 20 pounds lighter, it wasn't as much an issue. I could shop in a store in the mall and get something that would hold me in place, comfortably. Then I passed my final Air Force PT test, started an affair with Ben, Jerry, and Haagen Daas and it all went to crap. Now that I'm closer to 200 pounds versus the 175 that I was back then, I have to go to a specialty store for bras or shop online. In the course of buying bras, I'm more likely and willing to compromise when it comes to regular, everyday or "date" bras but definitely not willing to compromise when it comes to sports bras. I don't want my breasts to move at all...or as little as possible since that's what I have to live with.
And I enjoy running. I enjoy working out and breaking a sweat. I love getting in a great weight lifting session, too, but I often have to compromise portions of form in order to accommodate my boobs. It's quite frustrating and, sometimes, terrible for the posture because the accommodating posture isn't correct form for the actual movement. Ugh!
I get an encapsulation sports bra--one that has separate cups for each breast--and top it with a compression bra--one that smooshes the crap out of them. The result: A serious inability to breathe. Truly. I can't take a deep breath when I'm wearing this combination and, when I run, I'd like to be able to take the occasional deep breath. I'm a big fan of breathing. I think most people are. It's kind of necessary to life.
The irony: I can't get to the physical composition again for not wearing this combination of bras WITHOUT enduring it, for the time being. Huh?? You might be asking.
I can't get back down to the smaller size without doing occasional bouts of cardio so, that being said, I have to endure the lack of breathing until I get back down to that smaller size. It's coming along but, again, because I LIKE breathing, I don't do high impact cardio all that often.
So...to get there, I get to choose the lesser of two pains:
I can either breathe (and bounce all over the place)
I can limit the breathing (AND limit the bouncing).
I was quite sad when Buttercups closed last year. They were fairly convenient to where I lived and, pretty much, on the way to my part-time job at Christiana Mall. They closed at a time that wasn't a big time of bra need for me, though, so I didn't really feel the loss until some months later. They closed just before Valentine's Day 2016 and it wasn't until I returned from my post-military retirement road trip(s) in June that I was really wishing they were still open.
See, those trips were a total of 2.5 months and 12,500 miles of traveling. Sitting, really. And often. Even when I wasn't driving, I wasn't super active. As a result, I gained a good 20-25 pounds (on top of the ten that I gained in late 2015 but I digress) and could no longer "make do" with the 36FF bras that I'd been sporting for the better part of a year. Come June/July of 2016 I HAD to get new bras. I was measuring close to a 40 band. BUT, I hadn't yet ventured to Bare Essentials yet so I just got some "make do" bras at the local (overpriced) department store.
Come September, though, I was tired. Tired of being tired and tired of being the (overall body) size that I was so I hit the gym. But not after ordering a few different size sports bras from online. I kept the two that fit and then ventured to Bare Essentials to get some more of the same style. And, three months later, there was no denying that I needed new bras...again. I had lost about 20 pounds and the 38FF Elomis were swimming on me. Even the sports bras, which I purposely bought a little snug, were a bit too big.
Now it was time for some REAL shopping at Bare Essentials. I was helped by Victoria. The woman knows her bras. Even more important, she knows there's more to bra fitting than just band and cup sizes. I think it helps that her own quest is as "fun" as the rest of us--we, of the sizes that they just don't carry in midrange department stores like Macy's, JCPenney, or the like.
Anyhow, she brought me everything. Well, except for Elomi Cates and Caitlyns because I was just tired of wearing those styles. They'd been my "make do" bras for the past six months. I actually found five or six styles that I really liked and left with a pretty full bra wardrobe.
But, let me tell you about the store. Bras everywhere. From floor to ceiling and all along the walls. Beautifully arranged and in a huge variety of sizes. They may not have ALL the colors on hand but ordering is easy and they ship right to your house. LOVE!! They also carry Spanx and bra-sized swimwear. The fitting rooms are spacious; though the lighting isn't the best. It's kind of well-lit but the way the fixtures are positioned, they cause shadows and that can skew how you view the fit of a bra in the mirror. They also have a bathroom that is located conveniently near the fitting rooms, on the main floor, and it feels much like a home bathroom vs the "industrial" feel of many store bathrooms.
I first tried on the Elomi Energise Sports Bra at Bare Essentials, here in Delaware. That's how I was able to narrow down my size. I measure at a 38FF but this style runs large in the cup so I ended up ordering one each of tan and black in 38F. I then went on barenecessities.com to see if they had other colors. They did--a snazzy pomegranate color. Kind of red; kind of pink. I ordered two of those.
On to the construction and fit...
The bra, unworn, measures at 31"...
...with straps that are just under 1" wide. I know you can't really see that they're less than 1" but my camera flash was not cooperating. They're approximately 3/4" wide. You can also see the J-hook which I just may to try.
The cups have two vertical seams, one full (top to bottom) along the outer portion of the cup and one that goes up to the horizontal overbust seam.
The gore tacks beautifully and you can see, below (and above) that it has a closed top. I have short roots and even fullness--making me "functionally" FoB--and this sits just right on me. The underwires stop a full 2" from the top of the bra but the whole gore sits flush against my sternum.
So...how does it perform? Well, the jury is still out. I *have* jogged in it twice now. However, I haven't jogged in quite some time. I did do some running in my Natori Yogi bra. It wasn't pleasant or comfortable. So, really, I haven't ran regularly since I was a 36FF--about 30lbs ago--so I don't know if it was uncomfortable because it truly didn't support or if it was uncomfortable because of the extra volume on my chest. I plan to keep them and continue to jog in them but I may end up getting a compression bra to go over top of them until I get used to running again.
The Brooks/Moving Comfort Embody Sports Bra was recommended to me by someone who runs and is large chested. She assured me that it was comfortable and fit great so I ordered one. The first thing I did, though, was to eschew their method of determining for size. To determine band size, it has you add as many as FIVE inches to what you measure under the bust. FIVE inches!! I measure at 37", snugly. This would have had me ordering a 42 band size--two sizes too big for this 38 band size woman. And their cup size determination...I can't even. It has you in an AA cup if there is a three inch difference between your (actual) band and (actual) bust measurement and my 10 inch difference puts me in an F cup, by their chart. If you'd like to experience this confusion, yourself, just click on "Expert Advice" and measure away.
Folks, bra math is fairly easy: 1 inch = 1 cup size. It's the differences between the three main "sizers"--UK, US, and EU--that confuses many folks. The part that you have to keep in mind is that UK sizing has no vowels beyond E and has double letters after F. Here's a chart to show how US, UK, and EU sizing lines up. Since Moving Comfort comes in FF cups, it's safe to assume that they use UK sizing. But, by their measuring methods, I wouldn't need an FF. I'd be in a 42F. Needless to say, I didn't order a 42F. I ordered my r/ABTF's calculated size of 38FF.
When I first opened the package, I was quite excited. It appeared to have many of the features that I need for a bra in which I plan to run: wide straps, deeper cups, high gore to name a few. And it really is just a nice looking bra. My first step was to measure the bra--before I put it on so as to not skew the measurement. Unstretched, it measured between 30 and 31 inches. Eek! I hope it's not too tight!!
The straps were great. Nice and wide--a full 1 inch wide, fully adjustable--you can shorten them and lengthen them all the way from front to back, and you can criss cross them.
Checking out more of the construction, I see that it has two layers. This is great if you like a little more coverage between your bra and your tshirt or don't want your boobs quite so "out there" in a bra. It's also a great place to put your keys and ID without putting those items in the actual cup. :)
The other thing that's nice is that the cup is multi-seamed. This is an important feature if you have any sort of breast projection. Your boobs won't be pushing the bra all the way down your ribcage, searching for a deeper part of the cup.
Okay, so how does it fit???
Not great. The cup was too small. The cups are compressing me enough that I have cleavage in this bra and that's not a goal of mine in a sports bra. The gore tacked but you can see where the inner portion of the underwire is digging into said cleavage. See the "dig" here:
The other indicator that it doesn't fit well, for me, is how the cup doesn't extend as far as I'd like towards my armpit. This might be due to being too narrow, too, but I wouldn't know for sure unless I ordered a cup size larger--38G. I also had more "wing overhang" than I was comfortable with.
I didn't order the 38G...yet. Maybe sometime in the future. I found another brand and style at a local store and purchased a few of those. Be on the lookout for a store review for Bare Essentials in Delaware and a bra review for the bra that I bought.
A few weeks ago, I (as is stated in the military) got my "peepee spanked" for linking my blog willy nilly just for the sake of linking my blog. And, even though I really was trying to help the person on whose thread I'd linked my blog, there was some truth to the statement. As a result, my brain went into questioning mode. "Do I really have anything to contribute?" "Is what I offer valid/useful?" and on and on. Granted, I haven't been as informed for as long as the moderators on the sub on which I was posting my links but my answer still came to a resounding YES. Why? Because I have mid-band, mid-cup boobs and that perspective is different from the "usual" 28, 30 and 32 bands that are on there and might be more useful to the 40, 42, 44 bands that post.
So, I continue to read and learn and I still post links that I know are helpful--even when there seems to be an ongoing discussion about what terms are correct to use and which ones are not. The discussion on "Immediate Projection", alone, is enough to make your head spin. But I press on, bowing to the "voice" of whomever is speaking the loudest about what terms to use. I like the term Immediate Projection because you can explain that the breast tissue "projects immediately from the rib cage where the two meet."
I continue to tell folks that cross my path, at work and out and about in town, about my blog. If only so that they go to the bra size calculator and discover that most retailers measure you incompletely. I don't say "wrong" because they are using a couple measurements that determine a correct fit but they aren't using ALL of them. Did it just the other day, at the gym. I saw this poor woman with her bra band nearly up to her shoulders on her back. I always try to mention the blog right away so that ladies don't think I'm some kind of stalker. It also helps explain my passion for helping women get what fits. If they're able to glean some nuggets about shape, great! If it leads them to the reddit sub, even better!! I just want them to find what fits even if it doesn't fit perfect. Fitting *better* is good too.