It’s the shopping task that ranks second only to buying bikinis in terms of frustration, difficulty, and how quickly you find yourself reduced to tears in the changing room. Yes, we’re talking about bra shopping.
Whether your large or small breasted, it’s a rare occasion where you can just walk into a store, pick up some items and find they fit half decently. So what’s the secret? Is it even humanly possible?
Private plus size bra specialist and Miss Scarlett Did It founder Regina Pascuzzzi is here to help you and your girls.
1. Your bra is most likely ill-fitting.
“80 per cent of the time, women are wearing the wrong size,” says Pascuzzi.
2. But don’t feel bad about it.
It’s not your fault – there’s an art to it, people.
“So many people apologise for the bra they are wearing. I would love women to understand that there is no judgment when they come in to see me or any other person who does this. We are all driven by a need to help,” she says.
WATCH: Mia Freedman has a bra epiphany. Post continues after video.
3. It is possible to judge a bra size with just one look.
Now, THAT’s a good party trick.
“Thanks to Google answering my question ‘where does the Queen get her bras?’ (Rigby and Peller), I took myself off to the UK to have that experience,” says Pascuzzi.
“My fitter, Pam (you never forget the name of the woman who changes your life) took one look at me and could tell me my size, the shape of my breasts and subsequently what cup shape would best work. Two years later I was back in the UK learning how to do exactly that.”
4. Your back is more important than your boobs.
It’s not just your boobs you need to be paying attention to if you want the perfect fit.
“When a woman comes to see me I ask a number of questions and am able to confirm the size she is currently wearing, the shape of her breasts (fuller on the side, full all over, fuller on the bottom) and by the posture, how they are distributing their weight to compensate for the bra not doing its job properly,” she says.
“Contrary to popular belief, a woman’s back tells you as much, if not more than her breasts.”
5. Always, always try them on.
One fitting three years ago doesn't mean you necessarily know the size you are now.
"Too often women buy the same 'size' or type of bra without trying it on. Don't. Try a bra on and don't just stand in front of the mirror; sit down in it, jump up and down, move your arms, lift them above your head, lean forward," advises Pascuzzi.
"Is the bra rubbing, digging into your rib cage, lifting up? Don't settle and don't be afraid to ask for help."
6. Good underwear is always worth investing in.
Why is it that we'll drop $300 on a single occasion dress, but scrimp on the piece of clothing you rely on every day?
"I'd love customers to understand their value and that they are worth it. Too many of them don't understand that a good bra is an investment in how you look - you can spend hundreds on clothes but a good bra is something they think they don't deserve," says Pascuzzi.
"Buy one good, well-fitting bra instead of a dozen bras that aren't right. Building a good bra wardrobe helps to make sure you aren't wasting money." (Post continues after gallery.)
7. Stop worrying about how your boobs look.
They're yours and they're fabulous.
"It breaks my heart when the first thing these gorgeous women do is list faults and apologise for them. These always include, 'You won't be able to fit me because my boobs are... odd, lopsided, uneven, too large, too small, stoop shoulder, droopy, had kids, lost weight, gained weight, have too much fat,' and it goes on," she says.
8. There's no such thing as a 'standard' size.
Don't be disheartened when you can't find your size - the bras available in store don't always reflect the reality of Australian womens' breasts.
"Most manufacturers and stores work on the idea of a 'standard' that isn't 'standard' for all. I have seen everyone from an eight to a 24A to an eight to a 26 I," she says.
9. Buying nice bras when you've got big boobs is hard.
"I do see lots of women bundling themselves into a D cup because they can't find an E or an F that isn't ugly as sin," says Pascuzzi. Luckily, this is her speciality and the founding principle of Miss Scarlett did it.
(FYI: I also love this brand.)
8. It's equally as hard on the other end of the scale.
Small, big, average - it's no picnic for any of us.
"It's also incredibly difficult for women with smaller breasts who have larger backs to find a bra that fits as well, or girls that are narrow with large breasts," she says.
10. How you wear your bra is just as important as the bra itself.
"The mistake I often see is woman wearing their bra band too high up their back. Incorrectly adjusted straps mean your bra is not working - the support is in the back as it carries much of the weight," she says.
Fixing this will take a load off your back, and mind.
11. Don't be put off by a bad experience.
We can all point to a rude or less than skilled bra fitting experience that makes us a little hesitant to ask for help.
"Too often they have had a bad experience (usually at their first fitting as a teenager or for their wedding) and they have carried that 'assessment' with them all their lives," says Pascuzzi.
If you're still nervous, try a private bra fitting studio.
"I work one on one with women. By the time they come and see me we've already started a rapport and I know what they don't and do like and have a selection ready from them to start from. I've never had anyone visit who hasn't wanted help," she says.
12. Don't be afraid to shop around.
Yes, for your bras - but also for your bra fitter.
"If the helper is someone who is after a sale or has been rostered in lingerie and doesn't have any idea don't listen," advises Pascuzzi.
Pascuzzi working her magic. Image: Supplied
13. Most importantly, don't give up.
We've moved much further on than the Are You Being Served women armed with tape measures.
"There are great fitting bras out there but it's like a pair of shoes, you seldom find the right fit from the first pair," she says.
"For many women they put it off and some never get fitted because it's akin to root canal therapy. It doesn't have to be and remember there isn't anyone we can't fit."
What have you always wanted to know from a bra fitter?