Written by Cath Poucher

Lifestyle

Big boobs, big problems

Cath Poucher has trouble keeping her massive norks in check. So we sent her out to see whether she could get them properly upholstered.

It’s a bust: Cath and her two assistants investigate which stores make a boob of bra-fitting.

I have massive boobs. There’s no point denying it. This means buying scaffolding for them is an industrial-sized problem. To ensure they are securely confined and to avoid backache, I have educated myself in the mysterious art of bra-whispering. That’s right, I can actually fit bras. Properly.

As most big-busted women can attest, there is a frustrating difference between the average cup size (a D cup in the UK) and availability in high-street stores.

If not versed in the art of bra-whispering, getting a fitting and finding the right bra can be a daunting experience. Even if you get a fitting, being without this knowledge means you may not walk away with a good, supportive bra.

I decided to set myself a challenge. How difficult is it to get an accurate bra fitting for larger boobs? How difficult is it to get advice and find a good, supportive bra?

I visited five high street stores, feigned ignorance in bra-whispering, and got fittings in each with the aim of highlighting problems busty women face, and advising where is best for ‘buying big’.

Actual size: 30H/32GG

Store: Marks & Spencer
Size advised:
34G

Results: I arrived to my appointment and was shown to the changing room. Ten minutes and several ill-fitting bras later I was told my size, which was tight on the bust and large in the back.

The member of staff knew what constituted a well-fitting bra, but said bras never fit above certain sizes. This is incorrect – good bras fit regardless of bust size. Despite being the cheapest out of the five stores, there was little choice for larger sizes.

Verdict: Good value. Not a great selection for bigger busts. Not a completely accurate fitting.

Store: Debenhams
Size advised:
30H

Results: After a tape measure was used to estimate my size, I was brought a range of styles and sizes to try. I was there for 30 minutes trying a range of styles and bras until I was pronounced my size.

I was given great advice on fitting bras, and advised to look on their website for a bigger choice. If being picky, the only fault would be the assumption I would be one size in all brands – as with clothes, bra size varies depending on the brand.

Verdict: Good advice. Accurate fitting. Recommended.

Store: Victoria’s Secret
Size advised:
34DD

Results: I walked in not knowing what to expect, having heard rumours but never ventured inside. I was ushered into a stylish changing room. Ten seconds and a tape measure later, I was confidently pronounced a size I haven’t been since my teens. I played along, trying suggested bras.

Even though the lady gushed at the great fit, it was clear the back was huge, bust too small and the bra provided no support whatsoever – I was falling out of it. I walked out crying with laughter.

Verdict: In case it’s not obvious – avoid. No. Seriously.

Store: Boux Avenue
Size advised:
32G

Results: Having never shopped here I decided to go for a fitting. The changing room was fun – there were three light settings (day, dusk and night) to set the mood.

They only go to a G cup so were not ideal for me. The size I was measured at was slightly tight in the bust but the advice was good and the fitting was thorough. If you’re below a G the advice is excellent and the bras are stylish, comfortable and decent value.

Verdict: Good, if below a G cup.

Store: Bravissimo
Size advised:
30H/32GG

Results: This was the only store not to use tape measures but go on how well bras fitted. I was given good advice on fitting bras, and only discovered my size after finding bras I liked, which happened to vary between two sizes (this was the only store to advise that size varies dependent on brand).

I fitted wearing my bra and tried bras on with staff in the changing room, but staff based service on my comfort level and there was a robe available in the changing room.

Verdict: Great advice and service. Accurate fitting. Recommended.

bra fit advice in Bravissimo
Still there is disparity between the average bra sizes in the UK and availability. The high street needs to learn that ‘average’ is not an upper limit, and cater to women over the average size, not just under it. Bras for bigger busts shouldn’t be a luxury item costing around £30 each, but sadly they are.

My advice?

When bra shopping for big boobs, knowledge is key. Learn what fits best and don’t rely on tape measures. Stores relying solely on tape measures advised the most ill-fitting bras, because most brands will frustratingly fit the same boobs as different sizes (rendering the tape measure redundant).

Be open-minded and allow plenty of time – try styles of bras you wouldn’t normally buy to see what fits and provides the best support. Save and invest: get a good-quality, supportive bra from a store that deals with bigger boobs. Because if you look after your bras, they’ll look after you…

@CathPoucher

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Written by Cath Poucher

Cath Poucher is an archaeologist and enthusiastic blogger. Lovingly described as an "over-excitable pogo stick", Cath can be found in Oxfordshire with a supply of whisky or gin and a slightly concerning fondness for makeup and glitter.