+ Tips and Tricks

An Underpinning Upgrade

Over the past few years, I have preached about how important proper-fitting undergarments are.  I’ve even encouraged my readers to go for professional bra-fittings.  But, I have a confession to make, “My name is Belle, and I was wearing the wrong size bra.”

The last time I was measured for a bra was during college, when a lovely woman at a Nordstrom pronounced me a 34B.  And thus, I spent the past decade as a 34B. 

You see, God gave me many gifts: intellect, eloquence, empathy.  Sadly, a large bust exceeded the bounds of his generosity.  And while many of my fellow beauty queens ran to the surgeon for an enhanced pair, I have done my best to embrace my minimal assets.  I was contentedly, and permanently, a B-cup.

This weekend, following an unfortunate dryer incident, I stopped into Coup de Foudre lingerie in Penn Quarter to pick up some replacement Hanky Panky underwear (love them).  While I was there, I decided to pick up a few new underpinnings.  And as a result, the shop’s owner and resident bra-fitting guru, decided to assess the fit of my current bra, which was feeling a bit loose in the straps.

Without a measuring tape, Valerie’s discerning eye instantly pronounced me a 32C.

Initially, I was skeptical.  A “C”?  Impossible.  The only C that I had ever seen was in Algebra.  But once I put on a 32C, and Valerie checked the fit, it was painfully obvious that I had been wearing the wrong size.

My mistake is a common one, since 70-percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra.  However, since I have been preaching the virtues of a well-fitting bra on this blog for four years, my failure stings just a tad.  Luckily, the pain of the sting is mitigated by my newly-upgraded cup size.

It turns out that when buying a bra, you determine which one fits your band size (the numeral) by adjusting the back hook to the largest size.  This ensures, that as the bra stretches from wear and washing, you can cinch the band tighter to adjust the fit.

I’d been buying a 34B and wearing it on the tightest setting.  And as a result, as the bra wore out, the straps would get loose and the fit would fall apart.  Lesson learned.

Also, I’ve been corresponding with Valerie for years via e-mail, never quite finding the time to pop into the shop.  Let me just say, that she is so lovely, I will be making the time for in person visits on the regular.  I mean, she’s a sassy French woman who sells lingerie for a living?  How can you not want to be best friends with her?

For more tips from Valerie on how to buy lingerie, check out the buying guide she wrote for a past Valentine’s Day.  If you want to pay her a visit, stop by  Coup de Foudre boutique in Penn Quarter.  Or if you’d like a bra fitting, you can schedule an appointment on her website.

Full Disclosure: I’ve promoted Valerie’s shop in the past without compensation because I adore it.  On my recent visit, she was sweet enough to gift me the Chantelle pinstriped-lace lingerie set in the photo above.  It’s adorable.


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  1. GingerR says:

    I think women get onto the wrong sized band because a properly sized band is usually tight, and who likes tight underthings?

    However, they fit better and as you point out, with a little stretch over time the band gets a little more comfortable.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. Emily Kate - Capital Style says:

    Thank you for this post!!! I worked in the Penn Quarter area for years and thought about stopping by Coup de Foudre many a time, but was always too intimidated to actually do it. (I don't really know why). I'm sure I fall into that 70%. Will head over there ASAP.

    November 21, 2011/Reply
  3. M says:

    Literally the exact same story here – a lifelong 34B finds out she's a 32C this year…after 12 years of wearing the wrong bra size. Thank you Nordstrom! Everyone get measured.

    November 21, 2011/Reply
  4. ADL says:

    How's this one ladies? Thought I was a 36A and fitter pronounced I'm a 32D/34C. What? The 32 is a big snug and the 34 a big loose. If I feel like be squeezed to death, I go with the former; when I want to breathe, I go with the latter.

    November 21, 2011/Reply
  5. Nikki says:

    Haha, I love this post! I believe that most women actually aren't wearing the right size bra and I'm happy to tell my friends this. I've found that Valerie is a great resource too and every DC woman needs to take a trip to see her. She knows her stuff!

    November 21, 2011/Reply
  6. A says:

    I absolutely love love love that shop! I've gained and lost a bit of weight, and need to check back in and get re-fitted. It's shocking how much better you look with a great bra!

    November 21, 2011/Reply
  7. V says:

    Maybe I should try Valerie – I went to Bloomingdales to get measured and the (very expensive) bra the saleswoman sold me was so tight that I had deep red welts in my skin after wearing it for a few hours! Talk about bad fit. How expensive are the Coup de Foudre bras?

    November 21, 2011/Reply
  8. Emily says:

    I had a similar experience. Thought I was a 36B, turns out I'm a 32D! My new bras are so much more comfortable. The saleswoman who sized me recommended a new sizing every couple of years, to account for changes in weight.

    November 21, 2011/Reply
  9. C says:

    FYI – the brand is Chantelle (not Chantel). And it's a.ma.zing.

    November 21, 2011/Reply
  10. Anon says:

    I've had this happen to me recently as well, and I've been getting sized for years. I'm convinced they're now using vanity sizing in bras too.

    November 21, 2011/Reply
  11. Sharon says:

    Does anyone know how they do on the smaller end? I've always been a 32-A at VS but they recently discontinued my go-to everyday bra. They also don't make any of the cute/sexy styles in the smaller sizes! (highly annoying)

    November 21, 2011/Reply
  12. elz says:

    I was measured earlier this year-had the wrong cup AND band size. By a TON. I nearly died laughing when she told me the size, but I tried on a huge variety of bras and she was right.

    November 21, 2011/Reply
  13. Chris says:

    I have to say that I'm mildly terrified by this model. Is this photoshop or something more sad?

    November 22, 2011/Reply
  14. Yoruko says:

    Hmm… this reminds me, I really need to get a professional bra fitting. Online fittings and in-person ones have gotten me various results… I think I am oddly in between 34A and 34B or 34A and 36A… is there a such size as 35A?!

    I am so confused.

    November 22, 2011/Reply
  15. R says:

    For those outside the D.C. area, my experience with Nordstrom's fittings has been wonderful. Having recently changed bra sizes several times, (pregnancy and post), I super highly recommend. I also LOVE Chantelle.

    November 22, 2011/Reply
  16. amy b.s. says:

    i have no doubt that i am wearing the wrong size…

    November 22, 2011/Reply
  17. RMS says:

    I had a similar experience over the weekend. I bought a dress for a formal holiday party and then decided that I needed a strapless bra to wear under it. I've been buying 34A for years so imagine my surprise when I was measured at 34B. I'd been having the same issues with the straps slipping and now I understand why.

    November 22, 2011/Reply
  18. Rachel says:

    Coup de Foudre is absolutely wonderful. I sing its praises whenever the topic of bras comes up in conversations (and strangely, this happens a lot in my friend group). Another great resource is Intimacy, the famous bra store from NYC and featured often on What Not to Wear. They just opened a new location in Tysons. While Coup de Foudre is marvelous, the store doesn't have much of a selection for larger busted gals. Intimacy sometimes offers a larger selection of cute bras for those above a D cup.

    And Chantelle is quite possibly the best brand of lingerie I have ever worn in my life. The French really know what they are doing.

    November 22, 2011/Reply