An Open Letter to Manufacturers

Dear Bra Manufacturers,

During my yearly statistical analysis series, I briefly explained how poor sales in certain size clusters could be attributed to poorer quality options produced by manufacturers.  While the materials and craftsmanship remain unimpeachable, the fit of a bra can deteriorate rapidly depending on the size.  Mainstream sizes for brands seem to include UK 32-40 C-G, and while this customer can often struggle with fit problems too, there seems to be enough options on the market to find at least one or two bras.  However, venture outside the mainstream, and suddenly fit problems multiply, leaving women in these less common sizes frustrated and unrepresented.  When the scaling process fails and the design no longer translates, a slew of repercussions follow.  Most notably, manufacturers assume that women ostensibly have “options,” but the poor fit deters women from purchasing them, especially at full price.  Alterations become a standard practice which increases the price of the bra and the potential risk of worsening the fit.  In turn, women request more styles or size expansions only to have manufactures callously claim “Those sizes don’t sell well.”  We have entered a dangerous cycle where women’s buying habits are being judged on the basis of the horrible selection offered by the manufacturer.  If you create a product no one wants to buy, is it fair to criticize them for not buying it?

Furthermore, if a manufacturer steps outside the proverbial comfort zone to offer new sizes or styles, they are too often choosing polarizing colors or prints.  For example, Freya finally expanded their best-selling padded half-cups to include GG and H cups, but the color palettes are brown and black or brown and ballet pink.  Why not add a colorful solid into the mix?  Moreover, Elomi offered a new longline bra up to an H cup, but the wildflower print and denim accents lacked broad appeal.


While the fan print is cute, most women have an aversion to mixing black and brown.

Returning to the original complaint, I want to give a cursory analysis of some of the issues I have seen as a bra fitter for several of the size clusters in question.


Women wearing 28-30 A-C sizes in particular have an appalling lack of options with precious few companies addressing their needs.  Speaking more generally, many women in this cluster (although not all) have shallower, bottom-heavy breasts which create fit issues, especially for molded cups.  Freya’s designs, for example, not only allow too much additional space at the top of the cup but also fail to taper the edges of their foam cups for a smoother finish.  Meanwhile, the Panache Porcelain series frequently produces an awkward winkling and pulling at the center gore and base of the cup.  While fantastic options exist, such as the Wacoal Embrace Lace, Natori Calais and Feathers, the Panache Andorra, and the b.tempt’d Ciao Bella, far too many brands offering bras in these sizes do not redesign the shape of the underwire and cups for the demographic.  One of the challenges with this size group is providing a firm but comfortable band as well as cups which taper or fall closer to the top of the chest to prevent gaping.  Foam cups need to be flexible, but the shape should not be flattening or widening.

The Freya Deco often creates extreme gaping at the top for women in the 28-30 D-E range with shallow breasts.

The Freya Deco often creates extreme gaping at the top for women in the 28-30 D-E range with shallow breasts.

28-32 H+ Cups

Designing a bra for the small band/large cup customers requires ingenuity because the style needs to support a heavy bust on a smaller frame.  Quite a few of these women have deeper breast tissue, thus necessitating narrower underwires and deeper cups, but manufacturers usually offer wide cups and wires with short bands.  As a result, the extra space on the side of the cup inadvertently functions as part of the band of the bra, which enables the underwires to rest too far back on the ribcage (see below).  Furthermore, the underwires used vacillate between too firm and too flexible, the latter of which creates tacking issues.  Freya suffers from this with most of their H+ cup designs regardless of band size.  Not to mention, to compensate for the larger cup, manufacturers scale the height of the cup and underwire to be taller, and women who are petite, short-waisted, or have high set breasts feel as though the bra will chafe or poke their sides.  Finally, strap placement expands too far on the shoulder, making it nearly impossible to wear the straps as intended.  If the bra was originally designed for women in the 32-38 DD-G range, then simply scaling the bra to a 28K will not work as the body types are vastly different from your target.

Note how the underwire extends beyond where my breast tissue stops, meaning I am using the side of the cup as part of the band.

Note how the underwire extends beyond where my breast tissue stops, meaning I am using the side of the cup as part of the band.

34-40 H+ Cups

Like women with small bands and large cups, this size cluster also experiences issues with underwire firmness, tall sides, wide set straps, and shallow cups; however, cups can also become increasingly full in the front with underwires digging into the chest and sides.  In fact, women with very close-set breasts cannot even wear high underwires because they rest on breast tissue—a fit issue completely ignored by most brands.  Aesthetically, the wider wires and center gore often splay breasts across the chest too for a very wide look under tops.

38-50 A-DD Cups

Manufacturers assume all plus-size women have larger breasts, and options in smaller cup sizes can be limited.  Typically, what is available features matronly, out-dated designs without an underwire.  These women crave cute, sexy lingerie too, and I have seen frequent requests for push-up plunge bras to offer added shape.  Similar to women in the smaller bands/smaller cups category, these customers can have shallow breasts and need styles with less upper fullness in the cup.  Moreover, underwires for larger bands and smaller cups need to strike the right balance between anchoring to the body but being flexible to contour to curves, and the bottom of the bra should ideally be bandless and arched to allow room for the tummy region.

While the color is pretty, the bra is not tee shirt friendly and does not add any extra shaping.

While the color is pretty, the bra is not tee shirt friendly and does not add any extra shaping.

42+ Bands and E-G Cups

For women in plus-size bands with an average bust, the market provides more alternatives, but the need for bandless designs persists as does a remedy for rolling on the bottom part of the wings.  The lower band of elastic flips upward as these women sit and move as if it is not firm enough to truly anchor and stay in place.  In my experience, Elomi and Goddess can be particularly prone to this problem.

42+ Bands and GG+ Cups

Plus size women with larger breasts have as poor a selection as women wearing small bands and cups.  Far too many legitimately need a UK H+ cup in 46+ bands but are left squeezing into something smaller.  The styles are ugly, usually only available in that insulting “nude” color, and rely too heavily on the straps for added support.  Wireless bras abound too, and the underwire options quickly become distorted from flipping the bra around the body.

Even though the Goddess Audrey is supportive, it's not going to win any awards for attractiveness.  Women of all shapes and sizes want to feel good in their lingerie.

Even though the Goddess Audrey is supportive, it’s not going to win any awards for attractiveness. Women of all shapes and sizes want to feel good in their lingerie.

The problems enumerated above by no means apply universally nor are they exhaustive of all the fit issues experienced; however, I felt it necessary to describe exactly what bra fitters are trying to fix.  Personally, I believe manufacturers need to stop scaling the bra and start thinking of the design process in terms of size clusters.  Identify the needs and wants of each cluster, and then tailor the bra to meet those demands.  Be honest about the size limitations of a style because it does not matter if a bra is offered in 28-40 D-K sizing if it only works for 28-30 E-H.  Stop penalizing women in the less mainstream sizes for not buying products which do not fit them properly.  For example, the Panache Tango balcony bra has been used as a litmus test for sales in certain sizes on account of the 28-40 D-K size range, but the fit in many of those sizes is problematic at best.  Of course, women will not purchase a bra, especially at full price, which does not work for them.  Likewise, do not expand sizes in risky colors or prints.  One of the best bras on the D-K market is the Panache Jasmine, and with a few tweaks, I think it would translate well to the 28 and 40 bands.  Nevertheless, the prints are always so polarizing (dark mauve paisley anyone?), and women are not going to be happy about settling for an ugly bra for the sake of fit.

Perhaps most importantly, listen to your customers, both the retailers who buy from you and the women who support you.  We know what works and what does not, and we can help you.  Consult with women in these size clusters.  Fit them with your products and listen—really listen—to their feedback.  Together, we can help you improve your products, expand your lines, and gain further success.  As a bra fitter, I know limitations exist with bra design, but if we collaboratively work to find solutions for these limitations, then we will succeed.  Not only will you sell a great product, but you will have ensured that customers understand how much you value them.




Erica is a lover all things lingerie and is passionate about helping people find the bra which fits and flatters. Side passions include reading, writing, hiking, dairy-free food, walking her Jack Russell terrorists, and dying her hair everything from black to red.

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67 comments on “An Open Letter to Manufacturers
  1. Amanda says:

    Very well said. I’m a 36M and it’s a real struggle to find anything to wear. I end up wearing bras which don’t fit and my children complain the sticking-out gore stabs them when we hug.

    • Erica Erica says:

      You’re not the first mom I have heard mention the center gore interfering with hugs. :( I hope manufacturers will start offering higher cup sizes soon!

  2. Tinka says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. I would buy far more bra’s if there were better (and better looking) options! They can expand on their sales massively by taking the right steps to listen to their customers and tweak the designs a bit!

  3. Dawn Sievers says:

    I am a 34 D and it is very difficult to find a demi-cup style in my size. I can’t wear full coverage bras because I happen to have very round (natural – no implants) breasts and the full coverage styles dig into the tops of my breasts. This creates that horrible “double boob” look, as well as creates welts in my skin. Frederick’s of Hollywood makes a couple of demi-cup styles that work for me. Victoria’s Secret is hit-or-miss, and they discontinue styles so quickly that it’s difficult to do repeat shopping with them. I rarely find anything in a regular department store that will work with my body.

    Reading through your article, it sounds to me as though manufacturers are deliberately creating styles in limited, unattractive colors so as to ruin the chances of those styles catching on in the marketplace. This, in turn, allows the manufacturers to claim that those sizes and styles do not sell well. Of course they don’t – you’re making them uglier than a mud fence!! Or you’re making them so poorly designed that they won’t fit any human female form. It truly sounds like there’s a method to their madness – make a garbage product to pay lip service to that demographic, then write it off as a failing product due to poor sales. Typical.

    In a perfect world, some smart company would snap you up and take advantage of your years of obvious expertise and experience in this area, create new, beautiful bra lines and make a fortune!

    • hottxMara says:

      Ooh! It sounds like you’re full on top. Have you tried the Cleo Marcie?

    • Erica Erica says:

      Have you tried the Freya Deco? That one, to me, is great for women who like or have been wearing VS plunge bras because it allows a lot of space toward the top and front of the chest. It could be worth looking into at some point. :) HottxMara is right too that the Marcie is a great bra if you need extra space at the top of the breast too.

      Honestly, I don’t know if they’re doing it deliberately, or if no one stopped to think what else could be at work here with the poor sales. I know I mention higher cup sizes a lot in this piece, but even taking the time to identify what is going on for smaller cups, especially on smaller bands, would help too. There’s a lot of room for improvement across the board, and I can’t think of a single manufacturer who totally nails it on every design.

  4. audreli says:

    I love this post. I wear a 30J and the closest I’ve ever gotten to a perfect fit is with Cleo bras, and even those give me support issues from the two hook closure. It’s very frustrating when my size IS available, but little to nothing works well for me. I understand certain sizes not being “in demand” but I feel that the companies could put a little more effort into better design for those unusual sizes they do carry.

    • Erica Erica says:

      I have said it before, and dang it I will say it again: CLEO PUT MORE THEN TWO FRIGGIN’ HOOK-AND-EYE CLOSURES ON AT LEAST ONE OF YOUR BRAS! Phew! Clearly, I sympathize with you on that front. Truthfully, the four hook-and-eye design of the Parfait Charlotte is my absolute favorite; the bra takes all the weight off my back/shoulders.

  5. Jen says:

    Wonderful post. I wear a 28 band and a cup anywhere from DD-FF…I think. It’s hard to say, because I’m continually ordering 2-3 of one bra to try on, and even those that *should* fit don’t—I’ve been trying to find a strapless or convertible bra for TWO YEARS now, and just sent three Freya Deco strapless bras back to a retailer (unfortunately, y’all don’t carry my size) for 28 bands in E-FF, because the one that should have fit was fine in the band but too small in the cup.

    My BFF wears a large band and small cup—she literally cannot find a bra. It’s so obnoxious!

    Brands like to tout their love for “the individual” and “being you!”…well, help us out with well-fitting, well-made options.

    • Erica Erica says:

      That’s a good point about how manufacturers market to the individual but fail to meet many individual needs. Both of you and your friend are definitely in those tough sizes, and it really does become difficult to figure out what to do, especially for utility bras like strapless. Has your friend tried Parisa Fe? They have some pretty good designs, and it’s a little easier to find the bigger band/smaller cup sizes with them. Goddess carries some, but their designs can be a little more basic and matronly sometimes. Elomi would be a perfect brand to open up to the B-DD sizes in larger brands, but they keep starting a lot of their stuff at an E cup.

  6. WideCurves says:


    Excellent points about grouping fit into clusters.

    I wish brands would identify what type of breasts a style of bra would fit well on…or which types it would NOT fit. Even if it’s only full on top, full on bottom… any little bit would help.

    Women would need to become more educated about bra fit instead of stumbling around in the dark; however, I think we’re all perfectly willing!

    Something that has occurred to me recently, as I was picking apart the fit on yet another order of bras that did not fit…was that like those with small backs and large cups (your 28-32 H+ range) I experience the same types of grading and style issues as they do because I am at the polar opposite end of the spectrum in a style. I am at the top of the band range in most bra styles I try (38F/FF UK or 38G/H U.S.), and sometimes the top of the cup range. I have the same problems: the straps become too wide set, the wires too wide on the side, wires too tall on the wings and gore, and I still don’t achieve the depth I truly need.

    I really do think there’s a misconception that larger volume equals side boob or spread to the side…and it happens on both ends of the size spectrum.

    • Erica Erica says:

      Yes, even a little description would help women, especially those ordering online, figure out which styles are worth consideration. One of the reasons I offer reviews here and help out with fit information through email is to help women avoid certain styles and try others.

      Furthermore, I totally agree that too many manufacturers assume the side boob issue if you wear a larger band. One of the criticisms I get about Elomi sometimes is how they can be too wide and don’t offer enough forward projection. In part, this comes from them assuming there will be more side tissue which needs to be scooped into the cup. For some women, this is true, but for others, they need a much deeper cup. Speaking of Elomi, have you ever tried the Betty?

      • WideCurves says:

        I’m not sure… I have tried three or four Elomi plunges and have had the same fit issues with each.

        I am hoping the Amelia, with her low gore will be a better fit since I did not have the same issues with the Hermione (though I needed more structure on the sides).

  7. Ashley says:

    I hope someone important in the industry reads this. I am a 40-42C and that doesn’t mean that I only wear cable knit sweaters and polo shirts. I do wear tight Ts, tank tops and even spaghetti straps and most of the bras that fit me do not work with real clothes that women under the age of 50 want to wear. I’ve had some luck with Parisa Fe, but they do still leave me with the empty cup top a bit. Thanks for the article!

    • Erica Erica says:

      Ashley, thanks for commenting here! I’ve seen a lot of women in your size range complain about the gaping at the top of cups as well as bras which do not provide enough shape. Elomi needs to consider expanding to this market, especially because they offer such adorable designs. Women of all shapes and sizes deserve well-fitting, beautiful bras!

  8. J-Cup Jedi says:

    Brilliant Erica! So complete and thoughtful. Since the “long awaited” Charlotte didn’t work for me, I have been thinking about this a lot. With the fit being so difficult in the largest cup sizes I hope they will improve and refine instead of giving up.

    I am in a “squeaky wheel” mode as well. Have been on the Elomi and Panache FB pages questioning my pet peeves such as Panache’s “comfort/half adjustable” straps and begging Elomi to consider expanding the range of Hermione/Amelia to include some close “sister sizes.” Why the heck won’t they make Amelia in a 36J when it is the same cup damn volume as a 38HH?.

    You inspire us to seek change!

    • Erica Erica says:

      J-Cup Jedi, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so let’s keep up the squeaking! Elomi definitely needs to bump up the Hermione size range a little. I think the bra can support the size increase although I do note women in the higher sizes don’t get as much support from this bra as they do from seamed cup styles. However, if you need a bra for tee shirts, this would be a great style for those women. Also, Fantasie needs to up the sizes on Rebecca. If they can make the Hermione work at a 38HH, there is no reason the Rebecca couldn’t be expanded up to a HH cup as well.

      • jcupjedi says:

        A few weeks ago I took a friend into Nordstrom for her first proper fitting bra. She was wearing a 42B and I fought with the young and inexperienced saleswoman to bring 36s instead of 38s, She was generally most comfortable in what I had estimated her at 36GG. She tried the Rebecca and the Hermione both in 36GG and hated the 2 hook Rebecca and loved the Hermione. Surprisingly, the fit of the 2 bras was very different. For those of us without a quality,local lingerie shop it is interesting and educational to see people with different sizes and shapes in various styles.

      • jcupjedi says:

        Well… Elomi FB just replied to me. It’s about what I expected. Still does not make sense!

        “Thanks for your comment, the Amelia bra is a softer fit compared to other Elomi bras we offer and we felt that going up to a HH was the maximum we could take it to for this particular design. “

        • Erica Erica says:

          Yeah, that seems like a cop out response to me. It’s a shame because the bra does fit very well. In truth, the Rebecca does too, but they are definitely different. I prefer the Hermione for women in the 36+ band sizes for sure, but Rebecca performs rather nicely for 30-34, especially in the DD-F cups.

          • WideCurves says:

            I’ve owned the Rebecca in two sizes, tried the Hermione, and now own the Amelia.

            A good explanation to why the Rebecca fits smaller ribs/cups (especially the combo), IMO, is the grading between the F/FF cups. There’s a huge jump in coverage and gore between the F and FF cups in the Rebecca. So much that I couldn’t wear the FF.

            The Hermione was a little loosey-goosey for me; however, I purchased the Amelia (despite the obvious incompatibility in my shape) because the Rebecca is also much too shallow (and was getting more so every day, because I’m losing inches on my ribs but not going down in cup size).

            The Rebecca has much firmer sides, and the wire is a bit narrower at the root. I need the Rebecca’s narrower root wire, but needed the Amelia’s depth more.

          • Erica Erica says:

            This is a great analysis of the two bras! I find Rebecca is a great option to have for those women in the N Line, Fantasie, and Panache molded cup range because it provides a good counter point to those styles, many of which are plagued with fit issues. I was excited to hear the Amelia had firmer sides than Hermione, but the price point jump is awful. I’m still debating what to do for December, and I’m kind of hoping, they’ll have enough Hermione bras left to let me replenish with it if Amelia is not available. Not to mention, that fawn color is almost universally flattering. I’ve seen it be a great flesh-tone for pale women as well as those with darker skin tones, and Amelia is going that standard light beige route. Boo!

  9. Miss Shapen says:

    This… is the best post…. Too much love for lucid commenting…

  10. I think the problem is also customers. Without knowledge a lot of girls just screams “why does that bra not come in my size?”, as if a bra was a fashion object and shopping about fairness. I’ve seen tons of these kind of blog posts and tons of comments like that on Bratabase.

    I remember the discussion was the same in the forum where designers like Jessica Svoboda and Darren Trentacosta tried to explain to angry fat girls that their clothes had to be more expensive than thin people clothes since they put more pressure on seams and fabrics.

    The same goes for bigger boobs; their bras needs to be better made and girls needs to learn to pay more for larger bras. Or we’ll all get stuck with brands putting on a show producing their bras in sizes they cannot support. (I’m looking at you CK and Cleo).

    This bra adventure on Bratabase nails it. The problem is mass production.

    To make bras cheaper the same models are produced in a range of sizes. The more similar the object the easier to cut production costs and make a bra cheaper. As a bonus the brand will get better publicity. Also all bras seems to be designed with a perfect hemisphere in mind. Not all boobs are perfect half circles. In fact very few are.

    We have made some research about that on Bratabase that can be shown here: and here: MilkAndHoney that is a corset maker and an engineer has found a way to calculate root depth vs width to look for patterns in shallow, deep, narrow and wide.

    Like I said I think generally mass production and cutting the costs is the problem here. In my not so humble opinion bras cannot be made cheap and still work. And also it’s a terrible way of treating the people that made the bras. Bras doesn’t exactly grow on a bra tree. Someone has to make that bra. I get seriously irritated when people think bras should be cheap.

    I want fair trade bras, custom made bras and more brands that has their clear niche. Not more crappy mass produced bras that doesn’t fit anyone.

    • Erica Erica says:

      It’s possible that price could go up if they forgo scaling and instead redesign bras for different size clusters, but I think most women would be willing to pay a couple bucks extra for a bra which actually fits. Price really wasn’t the purpose of my letter since I don’t know enough about the manufacturing process to comment. Having said that, I know manufacturers would like to cut costs, but if the products they claim work for certain sizes really don’t, then that seems like more of a waste to me. People won’t buy them, and if they do, they’re certainly not happy. Fostering brand loyalty by treating customers like they matter can only help their sales, especially for these women who literally have nowhere else to go. Thanks for commenting and sharing those links!

  11. Jean says:

    I agree completely. I wear a 34KK or 32LL and it’s so difficult to find bras. It seems only Ewa-Michalak PL range is made in my size. Also if things keep going the way they have been I’ll need larger cup sizes in the future as I gain a cup size every other year no matter what I do.

    • Erica Erica says:

      Jean, I think many of the UK companies are losing sales to Ewa for just this reason, and then Panache goes and cancels all their KK cups. We joke that the alphabet does not stop at DDD, but it shouldn’t stop at K either.

  12. Blane Bostock says:

    All very chic.

  13. Stacy says:

    Oh, I love this.

    I float in that sort of in between stage — I’m more and more fitting into a 32H, but sometimes go for a 34GG (and my most recent purchase was a Panache Andorra in a 34H, since I need to size up in the Andorra, but could probably do a 32HH in it.)

    One of the most frustrating things to me is the style changes that Freya does once you cross that G cup barrier. Finding a plunge bra that works for me is almost impossible, especially now that I’m more reliably an H cup. Being in better fitting bras for a while has also caused me to narrow my wire-width choices down some. I don’t consider myself a particularly small band but my build often ends up with wires wrapping a bit, since I tend to be narrower across the back and have a deeper chest and slightly flared ribs. I don’t usually have problems with straps (save for some Curvy Kates) but I definitely have problems with wings (and wires, I’m looking at you Panache) being too tall, thanks to having both short and high-set boobs.

    It seems like they get the ratios all off, and don’t scale well because of trying to use the same wires all the time. Around 3/8 the length of the unstretched band seems like it might be about right for cup width (rough guess based on memory of my bra measurements) or somewhere in there, but of course we need variations for differing sizes.

    • Erica Erica says:

      Freya’s style changes frustrates me too since it can often look like a completely different bra in GG+ sizes. I know they are trying to stand-by the support, but I’d still like to see them improve those designs.

      Your description of your ribcage reminds me that I need to address this in a future post. Like you, I have what I call a deeper ribcage versus Dezi who has a shallow but wide ribcage. We focus a lot of breast shape in the blogosphere, but ribcage shape can have almost as much an impact on how a bra will fit.

      • Stacy says:

        That would be fabulous. It was a revelation to me when I realized I actually didn’t need wide wires… I thought I did because my breasts take up the whole front of my chest and a bit to the side and they LOOK wide on my chest (and they’re soft so when picked up they sort of spread out)… but really I’m just not that large across the back.

        The last wide-wired bra I wore regularly was my Elomi nursing bra, but that was by design.

  14. Vic says:

    I am 41 years old and my breasts are very firm, particularly given my age. I literally can not hold a pencil under my breast (I fought with my father about the need for a bra, he kept trying to insist that if you can’t hold a pencil under your breast then you didn’t need a bra–fortunately, my mother was far more wise and just rolled her eyes as we went off to the store to go bra shopping.) I have very full breasts, and currently wear a moderately wide band. My biggest problem is that I am quite shortwaisted and so I struggle when there is boning under my arm, which tends to poke me and make me miserable. I am currently wearing a size 36DDD, but I need a larger band and cup. The problem is that if I go up either band or cup size I end up with the underwire poking me under my armpit and my boobs feel like they are being mashed into my armpits. Because of a problem with “headlights” (if you know what I mean) I also need to have at least a little padding in my bra for me to feel comfortable. Because of a health issue, my breasts are also significantly lopsided (about 2-3 full cupsizes difference between them) so I also prefer to have a push up option (what I used to do was get the push up bras with the little removable pads and then put multiple pads into the one side and no pads into the other side and that evened things out, with my current size this is no longer an option). I also have sloping shoulders and prefer to either have a convertible bra or a racerback (I also prefer the shaping that pulling the straps in gives), and lastly, I loathe bras that try to smoosh the boobs into looking like another roll of fat instead of giving a nice rounded off cone shape to each breast. I have not found a truly comfortable bra that I am happy with.

    I have a 15 year old daughter that is currently wearing a 34DDD (what ends up happening is that when I buy bras that are not properly fit through the band, she ends up getting those bras) but she actually needs a smaller band and larger cup (she has riding up in the back of the band and her boobs lift her bra off of her in the front. My daughter has absurdly firm breasts that do not form into the cups of any bra, so if the cups are not formed properly, or they are not flexible enough, she ends up with this very odd looking situation where it looks like her bra is a hat sitting on her boobs. She gets frustrated with the whole situation and sometimes just sticks a nipguard on and goes without, but this is also very uncomfortable for her since she is so small (she wears a size 4 and is 5’10″tall, weighs 120#) and she needs those puppies reined in a bit. :)

    We have not managed to locate bras that even come close to fitting either one of us. We have gone in for fittings and have not managed to have any real success. I think that manufacturers should provide additional information about the shape of breast that works best with a particular bra style. I also think that they need to get away from the idiot notion that if you have over a 40 band size or over a D cup you want a minimizer bra! It is extremely frustrating!

    I work with a woman that is clearly wearing the wrong size bra, she has the worst case of quadboob I have ever had the misfortune of laying eyes on. I can also see that her band size is miles too large, and I suspect that she is so miserable in her bra she can not wait to get home and get that monstrosity off. It is a well known statistic that says that some large percentage of women are wearing the wrong size bra…I doubt that it is the fault of all these women, and more the blame of the manufacturers that have no idea how to market their product (hint, for many of us it is more than just making it pink and slapping a little lace on the thing).

    • Erica Erica says:

      I hear ya on minimizers! So many manufacturers and retailers alike push minimzers for anyone with even a moderately large bust, and I found it rather sad. If you want to minimize, then that’s your choice, but it shouldn’t be something forced on everyone. And you’re very correct that there needs to be more attempts to market by some brands. With social media being as popular as it is now, there’s really no excuse for brand to not put themselves out there and interact with their customers. I think they would be surprised by what they could learn through conversing with valued consumers, and we might see some of these changes happen faster.

      As for your bra dilemmas, have you ever tried Ewa Michalak? I know some of her bras have removable pad, and they are sexier and more rounded than other options.

  15. Vicki says:

    I wear nudes and black bras mostly. My thinking is fit and function over colorful and beauty. I’m a 32K, but I’m wearing a 34G/H cups because of style of bras and right now at this moment, I can’t get my size in the U.S. This summer I bought two convertible bras from Chantelle and they have worked well for me.
    I would like my band size, but for now these bras work well.

    • Erica Erica says:

      Vicki, have you tried locating a boutique near you? I know that many smaller stores will carry 32Ks and could provide some recommendations so you don’t have to keep ordering from overseas. 😀

      • Vicki says:

        The closest boutique that carries 28 plus band and to K/L cup is 4 hrs, located in Billings Mt.
        The next boutique that carries a little, few Freya and 32 band only is 2 hrs away from me. I live in Wy.

        • Erica Erica says:

          What a shame! Even though there aren’t boutiques nearby, you could try ordering from US retailers. Returns would probably be easier, and you may be able to get personalized recommendations too. I know I tend to work with people like you who are too far away from a specialty store through email, and other places will too. Best of Luck!

  16. Very good article, thanks for this broad review. If I’m not mistaken, I think the construction of the Jasmine bra (I agree, wonderful product, one of my best-sellers, but the print is always polarizing as you put it) is the same as the Envy bra (which comes in black and beige). That’s what my contact at Panache said, at least. I’ve ordered it for SS14, if this is the case I think it will be a permanent fixture in the shop, as I have yet to find a construction that works so well for such a large range of styles (roughly 28 to 38).

    • Erica Erica says:

      Yep, from what I heard the Envy is the new Jasmine, and as soon as I can confirm they didn’t make a small tweak which ruins the bra, I am going to be stocking it here too. The Jasmine is a fabulous bra that actually does scale well, but they seem to find the prints most likely to leave people loving or hating them . . . with not many in between! I like how the Envy uses a traditional houndstooth pattern to keep the bra fun but not so hit-or-miss.

      • jcupjedi says:

        This brings us to another problem- confusing and incomplete information from companies to consumers on FB and other social media. I asked Panache about which new style was based on the Jasmine and here is the reply I received on FaceBook

        ” thanks for your enquiry- we are launching a new style Dahlia in August which is based on the same shape as Jasmine but has a rigid embroidered top cup so might offer a better fit for you. It is due to launch mid August and will be showing on our website shortly. Kind regards, Panache “

        • Erica Erica says:

          I have heard them say this a couple times on FB, and as far as I can tell the Dahlia could be a non-stretch lace of the Jasmine although it does look more like the Loretta to me. Now, Envy, on the other hand, looks exactly like the Jasmine and even labels itself a balcony bra with a side panel and stretch lace. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see when they debut!

  17. AE says:

    It makes for an interesting read (I sure agree about the Jasmine, which I think is hideously ugly, but which I bought anyway) although I note that my size/fit issues aren’t included, which makes me feel like I have even less chance of having them met. My issues are largely not specific to my cup size by to my body type, which Lingerie Addict recently described as mesomorph. With very little compression, I struggle to find the balance between bands riding up and wires warping. Both will happen, I can simply choose the balance. What I feel that I really need are very firm wires. (You say Freya has this problem with H+; I haven’t been able to get them to tack since I passed FF.) Even Panache, which has some of the firmer wires, gets quite distorted when I wear it at +2 – and it still rides up. I would love to see a few styles designed for women without much padding in the underbust.

    • Erica Erica says:

      Mesomorphs definitely have bra issues which deserve attention, and I should have included them as they are definitely more common than you would think. One of the things I have found which helps is to look for bras with a slightly wider wing because it disperses the weight across a larger area so the band does not feel like a tight rubber band across the ribs. It’s a problem that transcends size as well. I’ve seen quite a few mesomorph body types really struggle because they have shallow breasts, average ribcages, and smaller busts. Their supposed size might be a 32D but with the ribcage, they may need a 34C or 36B which might not fit properly. I think instead of manufacturers trying to be everything to everybody, it could behoove them to get more specific in their fits. Remember when TV was all about what shows were on the major channels? The quality of TV was geared toward your wider demographic, but now, these smaller networks can create TV shows for specific audiences. I think the bra world could achieve something similar.

  18. isabel says:

    Its extremely difficult to get justthe right style of bra for everyone where do you stop ? We have in some sizes up to 75different bras all different shapes and colours we stock up a K cup with one ir 2 of our ladies needing next cup size up ! We dont have a lot of ladies under the 30 band but do have a lot over the 40 the Elomi Betty is a cracking plunge but only in 2 colours plus it might not suit everyone so how many do we have to stock and how many would we sell as all this stock has to be bought just wish Freya would go up to a 40 even .As for Panache Tango its one of the worst bras as it goes up the sizes the wires end up digging in the underarm the centre gore is way to high and the U shape wire of the cup ends up near enough at the ladies bellybutton . Its not an easy one as unless the bra is specifically made for you its going to be generic sizing !

    • Erica Erica says:

      Hi Isabel! As a retailer, I totally understand that we need to stock sizes which will sell, but wouldn’t it be easier to sell bras (and sell them quickly) if they are going to fit customers fairly well? I feel like if manufactures stepped up their game with some of these size ranges that retailers could stock a better quality assortment even if they can’t necessarily stock a greater quantity. It would be nice to see some pretty solid designs, especially for certain size clusters, that I know I can pull and have work.

  19. Galactica says:


    I want to talk about my experience, because I can relate to your post.

    I fit into something between 30dd, 30e and also 32d and 32dd. My breasts are what I can call self supportive, firm and small, so I shouldn’t have to worry, fashion bras are made for me, it is what everybody tells me. But if I try a bra from a classic 32A-36D brand, cups don’t fit me (too narrow, do nothing for my shape, just add padding) and if I try a bra from a big boob brand, cups don’t fit me (wires poke into me, center gores too high and wides, breasts too much centered, cups too deep, etc). Even in bras known too look good for shallow shapes :(
    I can’t wear Freya, Panache, Cleo, Bravissimo, Curvy Kate, Parfait… even if they do my size. I totally agree with your post. I had some hopes in Curvy Kate showgirl range, but wires are just painfull during the day, and too narrow.

    For now, only 2 bras really fit me and are confortable : a 3d bra from Ewa Michalak, and a sort of very low cut half cup bra from the polish brand Only Her that they call “plunge”.
    Common point ? They just accentuate confortably the breast, they are not really “supportive” in the full bust way, but are definitely more efficient than classic brands, it is hard to explain. Also, they are both very low cut, have wide thin wires and very low center gores. They feel more confortable, top half of my boobs can live their own lifes braless over the top of the bra, and at the same time, they get a real shape (lift or projection) from the bottom. Both bra gives a very different shape, so it is possible to design differents bras for the same shape, the 3d’s shape is very projected a la Ewa Michalak but more pointy (because there is not enought voulme to make it round I suppose), and the plunge’s shape is rounded and lifted and keep the natural pojection of the breast (so not much).

    I feel kind of strange ordering my bras from Poland with such an easy to find bra size, but I really benefit from a good bra, and they are the only brands who do something designed to feel confortable and look beautiful on my body type… When I wear an other of my bras, it is just unconfortable comparing to the 3d and only her plunge, I won’t buy them anymore, good buy Curvy kate.

    • Erica Erica says:

      The problems you described are ones I have seen frequently with women in that size range. Even though many companies make this size, I think it’s difficult to find ones that will work for a shallower breast shape. The bras are scaling very full across the top, and it can be hard to achieve a perfect fit. Have you ever tried b.tempt’d, Wacoal, or Natori? Natori in particular does exactly what you describe: low center gore with light padding to provide a natural shape and support. I’ve seen these bras work great for that size cluster. It might be worth checking them out if you get a chance if you’d like an alternative to ordering from Poland. For Wacoal, I recommend looking at some of their moderate to petite recommendations, like the Embrace Lace Contour bra.

      • Galactica says:

        Thanks for your recommendations !!! And it is great to read you see women “in my case” frequently, I feel less alone.

        I allways question myself about ordering a b.tempt’d bra or not, but I think it will be my next bra try. I hope they will fit me… Do you know if they work well on your costumers with (very) close set shallow breasts who still need wide wires ?

        About Natori and Waocal, I live in France, and ordering from a polish bra store is less expensive than a american one. I also often look for bras in french stores, but they don’t stock theses brands, just waocal sometimes, but only in bigger sizes and basic full coveage bras if I remember well. So not for me unfortunately.

        • Erica Erica says:

          Ah, okay! I tend to assume everyone is in the US, so I didn’t mean to recommend some styles that aren’t available there. From what I have heard about b.tempt’d they really do bridge the gap nicely, but I don’t carry them in the store yet. The styles I hear are the best are the Ciao Bella and new push-up bra style ( maybe?). They might be carried at your local department stores (especially if they carry Wacoal), so it could be worth investigating.

  20. Jame says:

    Great post! I am going from one end of bra size purgatory to another. Over the past year or so I have lost about 35 pounds. My bra size has changed from 38f/36g to 34h/32hh. And my band is trending downward with no commiserate change in cup size. What’s more scary? I have about 40 more pounds till I hit my goal. At this rate I might end up at 28M! I honesty don’t think I am outrageously busty, I feel like I see many women similar in bust size to me. What gives!

    • Erica Erica says:

      Weight loss can definitely take you from one hard-to-find size to another, especially if you have a lot of natural breast tissue. It could stabilize, of course, but it’s so hard to tell. Here’s hoping wherever you land, there will be some good options available! :)

  21. PawnShopGhost says:

    Could we also add lace-less options to the list of things needed?

    not only do i have a hard to fit size – but i’m horribly sensitive to lace, my skin will break into a rash at the sheer hint of it on the edges of a bra which means that many bras which would be a good fit otherwise are utterly useless to me!

  22. Oh you must be in the UK. When I was in france I found plenty in my size, but here in the states EVERYTHING in my size (a us 34 f) is UGLY, brown, white or animal print (because obviously the target market only like leopard spots in various shades of neon), and don’t get me started on price. It’s cheaper (and lasts longer, and is more supportive) for me to buy a steel boned corset. So far I still have my first corset (real leather, spiral steel bones, custom made at $200) which I bought 10 years ago. By comparison the cost for a well fitting bra that supports and looks good? there’ maybe 2 places I’ve found (online of course and nordstroms) and they range in $100-$300 range for a piece of clothing that will last me 6 months before needing to be replaced. I call this industry fat shaming first of all. why is a 34 f, which fits fine in a size medium or large shirt, considered plus size in a bra? I mean really? Gee its like the whole industry wants you to feel like crap for having anything at all.

    • Erica Erica says:

      Hi Ceegee! I’m actually in Burlington, NC, so there are definitely US stores carrying 34Fs. Typically, you need to visit Nordstrom or one of the boutiques, but we do exist. Many American manufacturers do stick with the beige, white, and black color palette, but there has been an explosion of new sizes, new brands, and new colors within the last two years. Plus, UK companies have been on board with more colors and prints for awhile now. Check out Parfait, Natori, Curvy Kate, Tutti Rouge, Freya, Fantasie, Cleo, and Panache for an idea of how much beautiful lingerie is available in your size—all of which is priced between $38 and $80.00. :)

      I do agree about fat-shaming and the industry as well, but hopefully, with support for the #DiversityInLingerie campaign growing, we’ll see improvement there as well.

  23. Blane Bostock says:

    Extremely informative posts. Women shouldn’t have to struggle so much to feel comfortable and sexy.

  24. AMAZING post. I will add too. For ladies at the really top of the cup sizes (as in K+) manufacturers also need to stop making wider center gores and tall underwires at the center gore. Plus all the other issues you already pointed out! Going from around an H cup to a K due to pregnancy and wow so many fit issues showed up that I never had before!

    Soft cup bras are even worse and the only brand that gets it in that respect is Decent Exposures (seriously, you should make a deal with them somehow to help out nursing moms!). Now at the top of the cup sizes I basically just live in Ewa Michalak bras because all the rest have too many fit issues. Fantasie is the second best but I’d need to sew in nursing clips and haven’t gotten up the energy to do that yet!

    • Erica Erica says:

      The higher/wider center gores are definitely an issue for larger cup sizes. From what I have seen during fittings, the majority of women in that size range are not very wide set and need depth without necessarily a ton of underwire taking over their chest. It really puts these women in a hard position, especially for body acceptance, if no one makes bras to fit them. Fortunately, Freddy Zappe from Eveden has seen this, and I am hoping she can take some of these suggestions to the designers. I know it might be a little more expensive, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a company varying designs for each size range. You’d probably build a more loyal customer base too.

  25. sprezzatura says:

    Excellent data for any manufacturer or entrepreneur to capitalize on…Great piece!

  26. Christine says:

    Great post! I’m a 30H/30HH/28J, and although I have some options, not many actually work. It makes sense that some bras and brands just aren’t selling in those sizes–it’s because they just don’t work! Cleo and Ewa Michalak are the only brands I have found that are okay, and even then there are issues (some Cleo styles don’t have enough room for my upper fullness, and Ewa’s hurt by the end of the day).

    Freya, Panache, Bravissimo, and Curvy Kate all tend to make me too pointy, wide, east-west, and/or droopy. I don’t understand why companies can’t reduce the width of the center gore for full bust/small band sizes. When the bulk of our breast tissue is in front of us rather than in our armpits, why do the bras have to keep getting wider and wider? Furthermore, I like cleavage, which most brands seem to assume I don’t want. A little push-up action serves a large bust well! It’s nice to have “natural” options too, but I generally always want good lift and for my chest to be in the middle of my front where it naturally is, rather than pointing to the sides.

    • Erica Erica says:

      I hear a lot of women in the H+ cup size range that would like some cleavage options for bras, so you’re not alone there at all. Manufacturers assume that you just want them lifted and separated when sometimes a little tasteful cleavage would be a nice alternative. Like you, I hate how the bras keep getting wider and wider with the cup size scale when really they need to consider getting deeper. This is true even in bigger bands and cups. Yes, you may have some tissue on the side of the body that needs to be encapsulated, but for most women, the bulk is still going to be right up front!

  27. Natalie says:

    Hey Erica – just found your blog and I’m loving it! I am a 32H in chantelle and I am planning on ordering some fun new bras online as it seems much more affordable. I am worried about the different sizing from different companies as I am looking at freya, fantasie and panache online. Would you be able to write something comparing the different companies and their individual sizing tendencies? That would be so useful to those of us new to all these awesome options. Thanks!

    • Erica Erica says:

      Hi Natalie! That is a great idea fora post, and I will see what I can do. That might take me some time to put together because it’s such an involved subject, so in the meantime, if you need fit advice, please feel free to email me. Thanks for the idea!

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