Review: Bra fitting at Bravissimo

In February 2011, I reviewed Bravissimo’s fitting service for BitchBuzz. Since then, I have used my increased knowledge of bra sizing whenever purchasing bras, and have returned to Bravissimo many times because of the quality of their service. So, I thought it was worth re-posting my review here. Even if most department stores stock your size, this is why all women who take a D-cup or above (or think they might!) should check out Bravissimo.

You may have already heard of Bravissimo – a UK-based retailer offering lingerie, swimwear and clothing for D-L cup women – but that doesn’t necessarily mean you shop there. Large-breasted women who have trouble finding pretty bras in their size in mainstream stores have long been a fan of their broad range of styles and sizes, but those of us who can happily shop elsewhere may have never really felt the need to check them out, even if we are D-cup or larger.

I have been buying my bras on the high street for years, and have never considered myself to be especially large in the chest so, when Bravissimo offered me a fitting, I wasn’t sure I’d take them up on it. After all, I wasn’t even sure they’d have anything to fit me! However, after years of wearing bras that just don’t seem to sit quite right, and fitting-room assistants in department stores wrapping tape-measures around me before insisting the tight-backed sizes they bought me were the right size, I figured that it couldn’t hurt to try out something new. After all, it couldn’t be any worse than the stores I usually shop in!

Finding out that Bravissimo don’t use tape measures is rather strange indeed. While I have no problem taking my top off in front of a stranger – burlesque does that to a girl! – I know that some women would be petrified at the thought. Thankfully for those ladies, you really don’t have to flash your nipples to the sales assistant if you’re too shy for that sort of thing. The fittings take place in large individual changing rooms with just you and your fitter, and Bravissimo staff look at the bra you are currently wearing to work out what they think would be best for you. The lovely Vicky explained the fitting process to me carefully, before examining the fit of my current rather saggy old 36C bra and then explaining to me exactly where and how it didn’t fit or support me properly.

The first thing I learned from this is that I’ve been wearing my bras too low. It turned out that the reason the smaller-backed bras that had been suggested to me in the past were uncomfortable, with the underwiring digging in and little bulges of back fat showing, was because I should have been wearing them higher with the shoulder straps shortened. It’s the strap around your back that provides most of the support for your breasts, so keeping the bra as high as possible under your boobs allows the back strap to stay level and provide support without creating those nasty bulges.

Vicky explained why I could probably wear a much smaller size in the back than I currently do, and how the cup sizes work in relation to the back – a 36C will have cups that are the same as a 34D or a 32E – and then left me with a copy of their catalogue while she went off to find a standard bra in a 32E for me to try on for size. I flicked through the brochure while wondering how on earth something so tiny across the back could possibly still be comfortable and flattering, and then spotted a few pretty styles that I’d like to try on if the first one fitted me. Before long, Vicky had returned and started to explain to me the best way to put on a bra.

I’ve been doing it the same way for years, but it turns out that the way you put your bra on can really make a big difference to the fit and shape that it gives you. Whether you fasten it at the back, or at the front and swivel it round, the important thing is to lean forward so that your breasts literally ‘fall’ into the bra, filling the cups properly. Most women also have one boob bigger than the other, so lifting and repositioning is especially important to get a get a smooth line without wrinkles. You can even shorten the strap a little on the smaller side to make the fit a bit better. In addition, it’s important to fasten new bras on the loosest or second loosest hook because, as you wear it and it becomes a little looser, you can then still tighten it up.

Once Vicky had helped me put on the first bra properly and had checked out the fit, I showed her the other styles I like and she used her expert knowledge of each brand’s sizing to work out what size to get in each for me to try on. After I tried them, she made a mental note of any that I needed to try again in different sizes and colours, before hurrying off to find them for me. As I am used to stores where the sales assistants make you feel like you’re being far too demanding if you’re even slightly indecisive, it was a refreshing change to be helped by someone willing to run around after you. The fact that Bravissimo let you book appointments for fittings helps a lot too.

In the end, the Bravissimo style I chose came up slightly smaller than the Panache bra I’d tried on initially, so the one I took home was a rather baffling 30E. However, the important thing is that I didn’t go along looking to find out my definitive bra size – even my shoe size can vary from shop to shop, so how would this be any different? What I really wanted to get was simply a bra that fits properly. In other stores I often feel like they’re saying, “this is your size, here are the bras in that size, now buy some!”, whereas Bravissimo fitters actually take the time to find you something you like that’s comfortable.

My new bra is very pretty and it fits me really well, plus I have discovered a store that I never knew I could shop in before. If you’re hovering around the bottom end of their sizing, I’d recommend booking a fitting at one of the many Bravissimo shops in the UK just to see and, if you’re already happily shopping in high street stores for larger sizes, why not check out their website to see the range on offer as you could be pleasantly surprised. The reason I’ll be going back is for the service. Shopping for bras has always been an arduous process for me, but the personal touch made this trip an absolute pleasure.

DISCLOSURE: I was given a Bravissimo Alana bra and shorts free by Bravissimo. I also purchased the Panache Tango Plunge bra and briefs that I tried on during my fitting session. The images of me in these lingerie sets were shot by Carlo and Fabiana Nicora of London Boudoir Photography.