Fun story from today’s Wall Street Journal — as women get bigger, so do their breasts, finally spurring the development of prettier bras still capable of offering the support a D-cup demands. As any woman larger than an A knows, a great bra — a rare and elusive thing — offers a delicate blend of cantilevering, comfort and oooh-la-la:
Specialty bra stores in the U.S. report brisk sales of large sizes up to a K cup. Sales of “full-figure” bras—those with a band size of 40 or larger or a cup size that is DD or larger—rose 3.3% in 2009—three times the rate of bra sales overall, according to NPD Group. People in the bra industry estimate that the average bra size in the U.S. has grown to a 36DD (also known as a 36E under some bra makers’ sizing systems), up from a 36C a decade ago.
“There’s huge interest in larger-sized bras,” says Roxana Avalos-Dessner, Playtex’s director of design. The bra maker just launched a marketing campaign that features “real-sized” women, including some with large cup sizes.They say 85% women wear the wrong sized bra. Jenette Goldstein, owner of Jenette Bras in Los Angeles, talks to Christina Brinkley about what makes a well-fitting bra.
The reason for the size change is not, in fact, cosmetic augmentation. Bra sellers say few of their clients are unnaturally endowed. Among other factors, people’s bodies as a whole are getting bigger. Obesity is epidemic in the U.S., and the average clothing size is expanding as well. Moreover, older bodies tend to sag. As the baby boomers age, they need support they may have dispensed with in their youth.
It may also be that Americans are wising up, realizing they can get a better fit. Recently, television shows like “Mad Men” have popularized fuller figures—perhaps encouraging some curvy women to look beyond the few-sizes-fit-all fit of mass retailers’ bras. Oprah, who has devoted a couple of her TV shows to bra-fitting, has helped make a star of Susan Nethero, who is known as the “bra whisperer” and owns nine Intimacy stores around the country that carry sizes A to K, including sports and nursing bras.
I’m not surprised so many are wearing the wrong size bra: very few stores offer bra fitters ready with a tape measure; few of us have the time or inclination to have a stranger hold a tape measure up to our chests and many of us, pre, post or mid-diet (or pregnancy), are constantly changing sizes. My recent diet has dropped me a full band and cup size. Woohoo!
Being a big(ger) woman needing decent support while craving a bit of beauty shouldn’t be a depressing slog. I hit my lowest low when, a few years ago, I needed the largest size of my life. I loathed feeling so bovine. The Russian fitter at Lord & Taylor was kind and patient as I held back tears of frustration. Adding insult to injury, the only choices, then, were orthopedic, hideous walls of beige nylon. It felt punitive and exclusionary — take that, fatties.
This one is gorgeous, from one of my favorite fuller-figure manufacturers, Fayreform.