This is a question we hear almost daily at Bustin’ Out, “this bra feels fine, but look at this…” a client will say twisting their torso, pointing at their back or sometimes their arm put area, “Is this normal?” The answer 95% of the time is YES!
It’s a fact of life we as human have skin and body fat, and contrary to what magazines will lead you to believe we do need to have these for survival. One huge thing to remember is that we are our harshest critics especially when it comes to our bodies and how it looks (or doesn’t look) in certain times of clothing. Another thing to remember is that a bra is not shapewear. Bras are designed to be a support garment in order to get that support a firm band is key, this does mean that it will cause some indentation of the skin, but this isn’t a sign of ‘imperfections’ this is a sign that your skin is elastic and is flexible and is 100% normal. No matter what your size is.
A Victoria’s Secret photo before and after photoshop. Like most humans she also has skin and bodyfat.
Another area that our customers often wonder about is what a lot of folks refer to as “armpit fat.” However this again is a normal part of our bodies that often gets photoshopped out of advertisements. This area is called the Tail of Spence and it’s actually a combination of breast tissue and lymph nodes. And for some of us it is more prevelant than it is for others. Some styles of bras will hold in this tissue but not all will. It’s important to remember that this is a part of our anatomy, is not an area that will magically disappear with exercise and is usually covered up by our shirts and anytime you don’t see it on an image it’s because of photoshop!
Body image is a tough subject for a lot of us, but we want to let you know that most of the people you see on a day to day basis see you for your personality and not wheather or not you’re at your goal weight, what size you wore in high school, or if there’s a small bulge from your bra that they can’t see anyway because you’re fully dressed. And anyone that is judging you based on these things probably isn’t worth your time anyway.
Written by Hollis Kitchin, Co-Owner of Bustin’ Out Boutique and bra fanatic who wishes women weren’t so hard on themselves.
This is always an area of bras that drives us a little crazy at Bustin’ Out Boutique. I’m going to start out by saying the word ‘nude’ irks me, because most people take the word ‘nude’ to mean beige and for a lot of women that color isn’t even close to what a ‘nude’ bra should be for their complexion. But let’s start with the reasons that a lot of women think they need a nude or white bra, for years we’ve been told that these are basics to have in your bra wardrobe. And depending on what you do and the clothing you have they can be an essential item to own. But for a lot of us they aren’t really vital.
When you’re looking for bras really think about your wardrobe and the colors you tend to wear, if you own a lot of white shirts or shirts that are on the sheerer side and wear them regularly, then go right ahead with your beige bras. But a lot of women, especially here in Alaska tend to wear thicker shirts or dress in layers which means that ‘nude’ or white bras aren’t quite essential. If you wear darker colors you can pretty much wear whatever color of bra you want under your tops.
White bras can be tricky to find in the US, especially in the size range we carry. This is primarily because a lot of UK based companies don’t produce a lot of white bras for the US market. When we can find them, they are usually marketed as a ‘bridal’ piece and tend to be more ivory in color and use materials that aren’t quite compatible with everyday wear and tear. White bras are actually more likely to show through your lighter clothing because they create such a stark contrast with our skin tone. Now if you wear a white camisole under everything anyway this isn’t as much of a concern, but for those of us that don’t do this it can make it harder to wear certain tops. In addition to this, lighter color and pastel toned bras are just harder to keep looking clean and bright in general as they can become dingy fairly quickly.
Now if a ‘nude’ bra is really what you are looking for we recommend finding one that is fairly close to your skin tone or the undertones of your skin. If you’re very pale or have a deep complexion a beige bra can heavily contrast with your skin tone and depending on the top you’re wearing the bra will stand out even more than if you were to wear a bra that has pinker or more reddish tones.
– Written by Hollis Kitchin, Co-Owner of Bustin’ Out Boutique and Bra Enthusiast (ok we admit it, she’s obsessed with bras), Photo by Hollis Kitchin.
Bras are works of wonder and excellent engineering, but like all things wonderful and excellent bras are not meant to last beyond a certain point. It would be lovely if we could have three bras for our whole life but it is, unfortunately, completely unrealistic to think our wonderful feats of engineering are meant to last more than a few measly months. You may need new bras because your old ones are falling apart or simply lost/gained weight.
That being said we all have our favorite bra, the one that looks good, feels good, does amazing things to our decolletage, and we have had FOREVER. Probably longer than we should and we refuse to give it up or just don’t realize that the ‘life expectancy’ of the bra has expired. The life expectancy of a bra is the length of time a bra supports you properly and to its fullest capabilities. This of course is determined by a few factors: how you wear it, how often you wear it, how many bras you have and how often you wash it. How you wear your bras. You should be wearing your lacy or moulded cup bras for your normal daytime activities. You shouldn’t be wearing them for activities that you will cause you to sweat profusely or for high impact activities. So make sure you have a dedicated sports bra for your trips to the gym, going for long hikes, kayaking or even work if you have a labor intensive job. How often you wear your bras: Ideally you will wear your bra one day then let it rest for at least one day, this is assuming you have only two bras. If you have multiple bras try and let your favorites rest longer, this will allow them to last longer! How many bras you have: If you have two bras they will last you maybe 6-8 months, so if you find a bra you love it might be a good idea to get another in the same cut. We recommend a minimum of two bras but ideally three just because it’s nice to have a good bra on laundry day too. The more bras you have in your regular rotation, the longer they will last you. How often you wash your bras: Believe it or not this actually makes a big difference in how long your bras will last you. Never washing them means your bras will never be free of all the sweat, oils and dead skin which will make the elastic and other materials degrade faster. So washing your bras every 2-3 wears will help them last a good long time.
How you wash your bras: While washing machines are fairly quick and convenient they aren’t always the gentlest on your bras. Hooks can get caught on lace or other clothing and can cause some serious damage. Putting your bras into a lingerie bag will help prevent extra wear during washing. Hand washing will be the gentlest on your items in the long run. But the biggest thing to remember is NEVER put your bras in the dryer! Here are a few signs your favorite bra has reached the point of giving up: you’ve reached the last set of hook and eye attachments and the band is beginning to ride up, the shoulder straps are falling of your shoulders and never used to, the underwire pokes out or is bent, the fabric is falling apart or has lost its elasticity, and it just doesn’t feel like it’s supporting you like it used to.
When you’ve reached the last set of hook and eye attachments and the band is riding up, doing the bridge or looking like a rainbow, it’s definitely time to get a new bra! You have hopefully been noticing how your bra doesn’t quite fit as well as it did when you first bought it a few months ago and have moved from the first set to the second set of hook and eye attachments. Typically this happens every few months, longer if you have more bras, and it should make the bra feel supportive again. After you’ve gone to the last set of hook and eye and the band is beginning to feel loose it’s time for a new bra! The shoulder straps falling off is another sign that the bra is getting old. Once those straps stretch out too far they’re more likely to slide around and slip off your shoulders. If you can no longer keep them taut but comfortable it’s probably time to look for a replacement. If the underwire is poking out at any point it is time for a new bra! Underwires do not belong outside of the bra and if you have sewn it in because you love the bra please say goodbye and find a new favorite! When the fabric is beginning to fall apart it is definitely time for a new bra. This may happen sooner than many of the other signs, especially if you aren’t washing your bras regularly or are using them for things they aren’t meant to be used for. When the lace loses its elasticity, the foam of the cup begins to crease or dimple, the band no longer stretches and the fabrics generally look like they are dingy and fraying it’s time to look into getting a new bra.
Finally, when the bra just doesn’t feel like it’s supporting you like it used to then you should absolutely be thinking about getting a new bra! Bras are amazing and are also a support garment because of this they cannot last forever. So even if it is your absolute most favorite bra in the whole wide world if any of these symptoms are showing on your bra come on in and see us at Bustin’ Out Boutique so we can find a you a new favorite bra!
– WRITTEN BY LINDSEY BURNET, CO-OWNER OF BUSTIN’ OUT BOUTIQUE AND LOVER OF ALL THINGS LINGERIE.
There is a saying in the lingerie industry in regards to bras in the United States, “Everyone wants something smooth and nude” There is this innate belief that having a beige colored molded cup bra is a staple in every woman’s wardrobe however this style is predominantly only seen in the US market. Because of this there are a lot of myths floating around about foam injected bras, the top one we hear is “Lacy/sheer bras just aren’t supportive.” We aren’t saying molded cup bras don’t serve a purpose in the world of lingerie, they create a very smooth finish, they can provide a rounded silhouette to the breasts and sometimes they are the only bras that will work with that one shirt (you know the one). However, the issue with molded cup bras is right in the name itself, they are molded pre-shaped pieces of foam, and not all of us have breasts that match the shape of these bras. Some of us have breast tissue that is more dense and doesn’t quite fill out the cups, some of us have less fullness on the top part of our breasts and it leaves a lot of gaping and shifting around of the bra throughout the day. Some of us have very pendulous breasts and with molded cups there just isn’t enough depth to the cup. This can cause pressure against the breast tissue all day long, or even when the wires are the correct size, the breast tissue wants to escape and for a lot of us although it is what we are used to, it is not the only way.
Support: As with all bras the support is coming from the band and the straps to help hold up the breast tissue. Now there are definitely a few lacy bras out there that can provide a little bit more shimmy and shake. However, in our our experience lacy or cut and sewn bras can be just as supportive and comfortable to wear as a molded cup bra (and they’re a lot easier to store in an underwear drawer).
Seams have a purpose: The placement of seams on a bra along with the materials used will allow for more or less projection of our breast tissue in the cups. Vertical seams can help shape our breast tissue upwards, horizontal or arched seams allow for more room in the cup so our breasts aren’t squished flatter. With seamed bras there can be more freedom, they can allow for a more natural breast shape underneath clothing, you can use the seams to hide your nipples.
Breathe-ability: A non-padded bra allows for more airflow, which makes them excellent choices for hot days, whereas with padded bra you can end up sweating a lot more. Which can make for a lot of discomfort depending on the top you’re pairing it with.
Bulking up: No matter what your bra size, a molded cup bra will add some bulk to your breast tissue and can make them appear larger. If you’re trying to reduce the size of your breast tissue those lacier and sheerer fabrics will definitely help achieve that goal.
Fabric makes a difference: Some bras have lace all over and sometimes this is a soft and stretchy lace, however in a higher quality garment there will be an additional layer of fabric to help with the integrity of the lace and will help maintain the shape and support of the bra for a longer period of time. A stiffer fabric either all over the cup or on the side and bottom of the cup can help provide a firmer feel to the cup throughout the day while still providing a little more breathing room, however with a stiffer fabric cup there is less forgiveness in the fabric and if it doesn’t fit 100% perfectly for your breast shape then it’s time to make a judgement call.
So you have some great bras that fit really well! But when is it time to replace our faithful and supportive bosom buddies?
The hooks are damaged: Hooks are what keep your bra together and keep your band clasped! If they’ve become bent out of shape or have torn out of your bra they can’t do their job!
The wire is popping out: Now sometimes this can just be a faulty bra and if it happens within the first month or two of wear usually it’s a manufacturing error (if that happens to a bra you purchased from us let us know ASAP and bring it in). But if you’ve had that bra for over 6 months or year it’s time to toss it aside.
The band is no longer snug: Bras contain elastic and it’s only a matter of time before it gets stretched out beyond the point of being supportive. Starting your bra on the loosest set of hooks means you should be bringing it in a notch about once every 2-3 months or sooner if you have fewer bras.
Significant weight gain or weight loss: Our bodies change and your bra doesn’t always shrink or grow the way we need it to if it’s too tight or too loose it’s time to get a new one.
Obvious signs of damage: Torn seams, stains, broken wires, holes, rips or tears, or the cups are becoming misshapen.
When your bust is drooping and your bra no longer does its job: Bras are designed to lift and support and if your bra isn’t doing that it’s time to replace it.
Did you know a bra is designed to last 6 -12 months? There are various factors that will affect how long your bras last you!
Number of bras you regularly wear: if you only have 3 bras that you regularly rotate between you’re wearing each bra for 121 days! Just adding 2 more bras to your rotation means you’ll be wearing each bra for a total of 73 days a year! That adds almost 2 months of life to each bra!
Cup size: If you have more breast tissue to support your bras are doing a lot more work and will have more everyday strain.
Nursing: Not only can your breast size increase with nursing, but the breast tissue is also holding milk, adding more weight for your bras to support in addition to the daily adjusting and readjusting that can occur with unfastening and refastening clasps.
Washing: How you wash and dry your bras will drastically affect how long they last! Ever pull a pair of tights or underwear out of the dryer and have the elastic snap or poke out of the fabric the next time you try to wear them? Heat from dryers will make the elastic more brittle causing them to lose their firmness. Washing Machines can cause hooks to get caught and torn.
We’ve all heard stories of bras along with myths about how bras should or shouldn’t work. Things like bras are supposed to be uncomfortable, bras should make you look bigger than you really are (only if you want them to do that), bras need padding in order to keep your head lights down (otherwise known as nipples), padded bras are more supportive, that your bra size stays the same, or that the shoulder straps are the supportive parts of the bra. These are just a few examples of some bra myths we at Bustin’ Out Boutique hear frequently. Unfortunately the first myth, that bras should be uncomfortable, is certainly the most common. There are many reasons why women feel like bras are uncomfortable. To name a few, the straps dig in, the straps fall off, the wire digs in, the wire breaks, it squishes boob out in weird places, boob falls out from under the cup, and finally having to readjust yourself constantly in public (quick note: all the reasons given for an uncomfortable bra are also indications of a poorly fitting bra).
Things that will help make a bra more comfortable: Wearing the right size: wires that dig into your sides or into your breast tissue mean that your cup size is too small! Our breast tissue starts much farther back on our bodies than just front and center on our chests. Wires snapping or breaking is usually a sign that stress is being put on them in the wrong place, this is usually from the cup sizes being too small. Conversely, if the wires are digging into the chest wall/sternum area it can be a sign that the cup size is too big.
Having a firmer band: When the band of your bra is riding up your back during the day it means it’s not doing it’s job! A properly fitting bra should provide you with 80-90% of your support coming from the band (the part that sits around your rib-cage) , the 28, 30, 32, 34 etc… number of you bra, while the remaining 10-20% should be distributed on the shoulder straps. A firmer band will also help keep things from moving around when you sit down, or bend over helping to prevent wires from moving around as well. All in all a properly fitting bra will give you support where it is intended allowing you to feel more comfortable in a bra than you ever have.
Wearing a cup style suited to your breast shape: If you have fuller breast tissue on the top half of your breasts, the wrong style will dig into your breast tissue, conversely if you have more shallow breast tissue there can be a lot of gaping in your bras if it’s the wrong style making it so your breast tissue isn’t fully supported. Some bras might not have deep enough cups and can add too much pressure or compression causing your breasts to feel sore by the end of the day.
Think of your bra like a good hiking backpack, you want the majority of the backpacks weight being supported by the waist band and minimal amounts of weight on your shoulders because if you are carrying around a heavy load for more than a mile without the support around your waist, you are bound to experience shoulder pain and discomfort before the end of your trek.
When the bra is properly fitted to your body, your body type, and more importantly, your breast tissue, a bra is far more comfortable. We’ll be honest, you probably won’t feel like your breasts are floating on cloud 9 all day, every day but a majority of your bra annoyances will be alleviated. Even those of us that have bras that are properly fitting get to a point in the day where it’s time to say goodbye to our over-shoulder-boulder-holders. However, it should be closer to the end of your day, not within minutes of putting it on. The reason for this is something we all have to remember, regardless of our bra size, a properly fitting bra is a support garment, meaning it is designed to support and defy gravity. In the case of a bra it is holding up anywhere from a few ounces to several pounds of breast tissue, and larger your cup size the more weight you are carrying.
We will be tackling some of the other bra myths in future posts, but we felt this was a very important topic to start with!
Bustin’ Out Boutique has been nominated for the 2016 Best of Intima Best Shop Awards! (Its like the Oscars for the lingerie industry) We are one of 33 shops that have been nominated for five different categories.
The awards ceremony isn’t until July 31st, but for more information about this awards ceremony check out The BSA Story link below.
Bras are a fun but complicated article of clothing and finding a correctly fitting bra can be a challenge. A truly proper fit comes from taking measurements and a little experimentation (aka TRYING BRAS ON) our bras are essentially containers for our boobs, so the cups of the bra rely on volume and while measurements are a great starting point, there a lot of factors that go into how they fit breast tissue density, breast shape, torso height, style of the bra and more.
There is a lot of confusion about bra fit and cup sizes mostly revolving around the letter D, there is this fantastic myth that a DD is HUGE and that anything at or beyond is a massive cup size when in reality a DD is roughly a 5” difference between your ribcage measurement (taken right underneath your breast tissue, not above your breast tissue, not adding inches to your measurement, not around your waist, right parallel to where your breast tissue stops on your chest). There is also no such thing as a ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’ bra size, we are all unique individuals with different body types, different heights, different needs. Our bodies change over time, our breasts grow and shrink weather through puberty, weight gain or loss, breast feeding, finishing breast feeding, hormonal changes and more. This means that our bra sizes aren’t static and just because you were fitted 5 years ago, a year ago or even 6 months ago in one size doesn’t mean you’ll always be at that size.
To make bras even more fun and confusing every brand fits differently, every style fits differently heck even different color ways fit differently, most countries use different size labels and numbers. This means you REALLY need to try them on, every single time. Some brands are more consistent in their sizing but every now and then a style will run loose or tighter.
Ideally a well-fitting bra will be supportive; bras are intended to be a support garment after all. This means you’ll probably need a firmer band than you are used to. This firmer band helps lift the breast tissue up, and will quite literally relieve some weight and strain off your shoulders and for a lot of women can help relieve neck and shoulder irritation. Having a firmer band can accentuate “back fat” this however doesn’t mean that the bra doesn’t fit, it just means that the band is firmer and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We have layers of skin and fat, we are human after all. But the less firm of the band the less lift and support you get, which means the lower the boobs will hang.
Did you notice how both Hollis and the customer above are wearing their bras on the loosest set of hooks? This is because bras will stretch out over time, if you start them at the tightest setting when they are new you won’t be able to tighten them up as the elastic expires. If you know your body fluctuates weight regularly try a band that you can easily start at the middle hook so you can loosen or tighten as needed, or get bras at your highest and lowest fluctuation point.
If you feel like your bra is perfect then great! We will have bras for you when you’re ready to get a new one. However, if you’re not sure if your bra is fitting correctly, let us give you a hand! We’re more than happy to answer any questions or bra fitting concerns you might have.