Today, after a visit to Bravissimo, I decided to nip into Manchester’s M&S. I initially planned on just trying on a 36G to show how poor a fit the +4/5 method gives..
Which it obviously does. With my measurements of around 30/43, I usually wear a very comfortable, very supportive 30JJ. Today, measuring closer to 31, M&S suggests I wear a 36 band. Pictured is a 36G, the size suggested by House of Fraser. All of the obvious signs of a poor fit are there: the wires are not flat against my ribcage, I have “double boob” at the top, the band rides up, and the wires are sitting on breast tissue at the side.
I was going to leave it there, until I saw an empty appointment slot, in just 20 minutes. Having been told that the fitters have been re-trained, I booked it and grabbed myself a 38F to be fitted from.
My fitter initially looked at my bra to see how it fit me. She quickly noticed the band was riding up and checked the label, seeming absolutely horrified that I was wearing a 38 back. I was hopeful for a good fitting…until she reached for the tape measure. She measured my underbust (measurement 3) at 30.7, and my overbust (measurement 1) at 36, and proclaimed me…a 36 band. 36. She then observed the cups were too small and went to fetch a 36G, a cup bigger.
…It, of course, had all the same problems as the pink bra. I instantly put it onto the tightest hooks, which she did point out, explaining that the tighter hooks are for as it stretches. However, she did not suggest going down a back size, just re-hooked it onto the loosest. Once again, she observed the cups were too small, and went to fetch a 36GG.
Once again, I put it straight on the tightest hook. This time she remarked that the band seemed slightly loose, re-hooking it onto the middle hooks, but still not suggesting a smaller band size. She then looked over it and proclaimed it a perfect fit. And, to be fair, if you ignored the band it didn’t look half bad. For a completely unadjusted bra. However, if she had instructed me to scoop my breasts fully into the bra (as any good fitter will do), it looked more like this:
It was still clearly too small in the cups, the wires were sitting on breast tissue at the sides, and I could easily fit my arm under the band. What really confused me was that she seemed to know what the signs of a poor fit were, but she didn’t recognise them in practice. She told me about overspill, about wires on breast tissue, about a firm band, about using the loosest hooks, but she still did not notice that the fit was all wrong. It almost seems as though the fitters have been re-trained to parrot the facts, but not to apply them.
A good fitter should be friendly and welcoming, but also knowledgeable. She should be able to educate and fit the customer, preferably without the use of a tape measure. A starting point is fine, preferably one starting at the underbust measurement, but the result is not set in stone – I was shocked that my fitter remarked that the band was still slightly loose, but did not suggest perhaps a 34H. There was a sign saying they have bras up to a J cup right next to me, so it wasn’t as though they didn’t have them. A good fitter should make sure the bra is put on properly and all breast tissue is scooped into it. She should adjust the straps, and she should pull on the band to check it is firm enough.
M&S frequently advertise their fitting service with the fact that 80% of women are wearing an ill-fitting bra, but it seems to me that they are doing nothing to decrease that percentage – instead manufacturing gimmicky bras to treat the symptom, but not the cause. M&S is where most women in the UK go for a bra fitting, yet it is very clear that they are doing a huge disservice to women. A badly-fitting bra can lead to back pain, migrated breast tissue, depression, poor body image, permanent shoulder dents, migraines, poor circulation and so many other things.
Women deserve better than this.
EDIT: For comparison, here is a picture of me, properly fitted, in a 30JJ: