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Bra fitters busted

An undercover investigation has found bra fittings just aren’t measuring up…

Published on January 26th 2010.

Bra shopping is no easy task. No matter what your size, there are a lot of things to take into consideration in the quest for the perfect support and style. And even when we think we’ve found it, in actual fact most of us still end up wearing the wrong size bra. What’s a girl to do?

Badly fitted bras don’t just look awful – they can also cause neck, shoulder and back ache and poor posture.

Many of us prefer to pass the responsibility over to a professional bra fitter, normally in a department store or lingerie shop. It makes perfect sense, given that they’re specially trained up and ready to take on all manner of shapes and sizes. But according to new research by consumer magazine Which? fewer than one in three of the most popular bra fitting services measured up.

Which? sent 11 researchers, aged 25 – 75 with a DD cup size or larger, to a total of 70 specialist and high street stores to buy an everyday bra. Whilst the survey focused mainly on bra fittings for ladies with larger busts, it’s also worth noting that smaller busted participants were equally as disappointed with the level of service.

The bra brigade visited various branches of John Lewis, Bravissimo, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, La Senza and House of Fraser. A quarter of the fittings were deemed appalling and some of the women were sold wildly different sizes by different shops. In one case this varied by seven sizes from a 34FF to 40D.

Another was sold exactly the same bra in two House of Fraser branches but in sizes 34C and 34F, both of which were a terrible fit. Despite the difference in age and requirements, the 30 and 75-year-old researchers were sold the same Wonderbra-style bra in La Senza – it fitted neither.

Badly fitted bras don’t just look awful – they can also cause neck, shoulder and back ache and poor posture. One participant of the study commented: “When I took it off, I had a lot of breast pain. I’ve had this sort of pain before and on that occasion was referred to the breast unit which said it was probably a badly-fitting bra.”

Jenny Driscoll from Which? said: “Whatever their bra size, women want to look good and feel good. Heading to the high street for a fitting might seem like a simple solution, but the results we found were shocking - one bra was so poorly fitted there was room for a pair of socks in the cups.If stores are going to offer this service to customers they need to up their game: do it properly or don’t do it at all.”

John Lewis and Bravissimo received the best overall scores, but according to Which? still weren’t good enough to recommend.

Bra testers judged each bra on front and back underband tension, cup capacity, cup depth, east-west (breasts pointing forward), side seam depth, suitable wire shape, stability, overall fit, potential future comfort. These combined give the overall score percentages:

- John Lewis 45%

- Bravissimo 43%

- Marks & Spencer 36%

- Debenhams 35%

- La Senza 31%

- House of Fraser 28%

Tips for getting the right fit

- Get to know what brands fit you well.

- Make sure your bra fitter makes you feel comfortable. They shouldn’t measure you over clothes.

- Visit independent lingerie shops and try buying online to save money (provided you can send it back if it doesn’t fit.)

- Look after your bras. A bra will last six months on average before components deteriorate, but 16% of you have bras more than five years old. Out with the old and in with the new.

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red foxJanuary 26th 2010.

Madam Foner, certainly sorted out my 34 double D Toby Juggs. Sadly, or rather luckily I chucked out all my other ill fitting paraphinallia, and for £38 have the Roll Royce of bras now . . and got Roll Royce service. Madam Foner - is the only place to go to get the best our of your clevage! And she's very discrete!

Toby JuggsJanuary 26th 2010.

Hmmm... see no mention of Liverpool's pre-eminent palace of personal garments 'Madame Foners', the only original, proper upmarket shop to survive on tatty Bold Street these days.

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