Last week I got an email from Bravissimo.

It was inviting me to go and get measured for a bra in my local Bravissimo store and see what I thought of the fitting experience. Plus, get a free bra set to takeaway.

I was interested for 2 reasons.

Firstly, you did see free bra right?

Secondly, What Katie Did has recently carried out a bra sizing survey. Until I spoke to Katie at the Hendricks event it had never occurred to me that there had been a change in the way bras were sized over the years. That, however, is an article for a different time as I am waiting for some information from Bravissimo. Today I’m just reviewing my experience getting measured!

I am notoriously bad at getting measured for bras. In 1994 I was a 34B and since then I was pretty much guessing my size until I went for a fitting at a Bravissimo a couple of years ago. I can’t remember exactly what I was measured at, a fairly small back like a 30 I think and a fairly large cup, but having put on a *cough* few pounds *cough* since then I was interested to see what size I am now.

For a long time I thought I wasn’t booby enough to be measured at Bravissimo and that they were only for women with huge chests who had difficulty getting bras elsewhere and had to wear tops without buttons.

Not so. Yes, Bravissimo starts at a D cup. But if you take into account that many women are wearing bras too small, and the possible differences in the way you were measured 10 years ago then it’s entirely possible that women who currently believe they are wearing a B or C cup would actually be better off in a modern D cup.

On arrival I was ushered into a changing room. A changing room with a proper door, and lots of hooks, and a stool! Luxury! I was (politely) asked to take off my top by the lovely Alex. She then had a bit of a peek at the bra I was wearing currently, pointing out bits where it did and didn’t fit properly. She concluded that it was a good fit, but maybe a bit tight. She asked what size I was currently wearing, but I didn’t know, so she took a guess, left me with a catalogue and popped off to collect some bras to try.

Her first guess, a 34DD, was a bit too small in the cup so she fetched a 34E and also went off to fetch some styles I liked the look of in the catalogue.

At this point I also discovered which boob was my bigger boob. Frankly something it had never occurred to me to worry about before. Though I was aware in an abstract way that most women have one breast bigger than the other.

As I had chosen a balcony style bra with moulded cups I had to make sure that I chose a size that wouldn’t dig in on my bigger side, but didn’t gape on the smaller one.  I have to say it was a far less stressful shopping experience than wandering aimlessly round a shop, finding all the bras you like aren’t available in what you *think* is your size and then finding out they don’t fit anyway and you have to get dressed and go back out again on the hunt. Alex was very patient about bringing endless different styles and even bringing in ones that I hadn’t mentioned but she thought I might like.

In the end I came home with this set. The Rhea bra in Powder (£33), which is a nice vintagey shade of ivory satin with a pretty dusky pink crochet lace trim.

Overall I was left with the impression that bra fitting is certainly more art than science! Regardless of what band size you may wear at a particular label the fit of the cups is as variable as the fit of a pencil skirt over a circle skirt. While you might need an E cup in moulded balcony bra, a full coverage soft cup bra might need a DD to get a good fit.

What was Good

All the Bravissimo staff I spoke to were very knowledgeable about the product range, breast physiology and bra sizing. They were able to tell me which products were changing design and discuss recent press coverage and news about Bravissimo. They also seemed enthusiastic about the job, which is rare in shop staff!

They didn’t just fit the bra, they explained what they were doing and how a bra *should* fit, making me more confident that if I tried a bra on in future I’d be able to chose the right size.

If you sign up to receive catalogues in store that starts you a file on the computer under which all your future purchases are stored. This might sound a bit Big Brother, but the idea is that you are able to return items without a receipt, a well as spying on how often you shop! Bravissimo guarantee their bras as long as they are hand washed, so if the wire comes out or it falls apart you can return it, even if you’ve lost the receipt. They also say you can come back and exchange the bra if you get it home and it’s not as comfortable as you first thought.

What was bad

The lighting in the changing rooms was pretty unflattering. It had an orange hue, made me look disturbingly pale and showed up every line and flaw on my face, which didn’t make me feel particularly good about myself! Something I could have done without while hanging around in my bra!

I wondered what the relationship WAS between torso measurement and bra size as no tape measures are used there is no mention of that at all, but it would be nice to at least be given a start point for band size and then be able to go up or down if a particular bra came in an unusual fit. It would also help people size themselves if they gain or lose a little weight.

I also wasn’t overly impressed with the selection of underwear available. Much of what was available in store veered towards the pink and floral or red and lacy ends of the spectrum, which aren’t particularly appealing to me.

The matching knickers in the sets were also fairly uninspiring, coming mostly in a choice of boy short or thong which the occasional low cut brief. It would be nice to see more thought put into the styling of the sets and some more variety available. I would have preferred a higher cut brief with my set, but as I haven’t worn a thong since an uncomfortable day in 2001 I was left with only the choice of boy shorts.

The Verdict

If you have trouble finding bras in the right size, or have no clue what size you really should be wearing then Bravissimo is a very good place to start. They have an excellent range of nice basic every day bras as well as some pretty styles and they’re excellent if you have trouble finding clothes that fit your bust.

If you like their designs, then you couldn’t pick a better place to shop! I’d certainly go back in future, but probably mostly for basics like T shirt bras, or to check out their clothing range. I’ll definitely check out their next catalogue when it drops through my door and if there’s a style that grabs my eye I’ll feel confident in ordering it after the advice I was given.

Don’t assume that the size you are given will be your size in every shop across the country though, or even in every bra in the Bravissimo shop. Bra sizes vary, just like clothing sizes, and getting the right fit will always be a case of trial and error.

Being fitted for your first bra used to be a milestone, and women would wear a specific brand and style of bra. As lingerie moves more into the fashion sphere the important role it plays in supporting our chests has been forgotten, and I applaud Bravissimo for their work in bringing back the idea that a bra isn’t just something you grab off the shelf and cross your fingers.

You can find out your closest store on the Bravissimo website
then just call them or pop in to make a fitting appointment