Sunday, 27 September 2015

Transitioning Out of Nursing Bras: Part I

If you follow me on twitter you may have caught some of my rants on recent bra woes as I find myself attempting to progress into "proper bras" after almost two years of wearing maternity and nursing bras. I've managed to wean my son down to only a nursing session first thing in the morning and last thing at night, a level I'm happy with and plan to keep at for as long as possible, and which means I can get back to wearing non-nursing bras during the day time. But this has proved rather problematic.

So let me take you on a little journey through my various attempts to figure out my own size, hopefully this may help any other mamas who are on the same journey as me.

Let's start at the beginning then shall we? A few months ago I figured out that I could actually fit into my 30GG nursing bras. This was exciting because "YEY! My uncomfortably large breasts are shrinking!" but also because I had a rather nice Bravado nursing bra alongside the Freya Deco Wireless Plunge that I hadn't been able to wear ever since my milk came in a postpartum. How great was my disappointment then, when they went on seamlessly at the beginning of the day, only to find myself spilling out of them within an hour or so of the usual mum-nastics and household upkeep.

The only thing I could imagine was that I wasn't actually a 30GG. So I ran the numbers... and they were confounding. When measured I found myself to have a snug 30" underbust and a 37" bust. Using the ol' reliable and ultra basic method for figuring out one's bra size (each inch subtracted between the two equals a cup size) that would have put me in a 30F. The A Bra That Fits calculator was slightly more helpful, suggesting I was a 30G/GG, but this didn't solve my conundrum of why I was then spilling out of 32G sized bras.

So this brings me to my main point of this post, being that online calculators don't work well at the best of times and definitely do not work when figuring out your bra size after over a year of breastfeeding. This I will demonstrate shortly, but beforehand let me just say that it was at this point that I read an absolutely brilliant article from the Secrets From Your Sister blog. I'd recommend anyone who's currently nursing, has in the past, or simply suspects that they have softer than the average breasts giving it a read. For any who don't know, you can loose a lot of breast density and skin elasticity due to changes in breast composition and size during pregnancy and then nursing. Now I've never had particularly firm breasts so this has now left me with very bottom heavy breasts which feel like they really don't have much to them. It was such a relief to finally find some guide lines on how I could go about buying a bra for my "new" breasts".

Which brings me back to the calculators. I thought it would be simple enough to just go back online, input my measurements and then buy a shape recommended by the SFYS post. It did not prove to be quite that easy... I didn't screen shot my original results but here are my current measurements (I've dropped another inch off my bust) inputed into a few of the top bra size calculators you will find while doing a google search.

First up is the 85b calculator. The first two calculators I'm showing here clearly use the +4 method in some way or another. This is the idea that 4" should be added to your underbust measurement and it is this number that should then be subtracted from your bust measurement to find your cup size. This originates from vintage fitting methods when a lack of elastic in the bra band required the extra inches to be added for comfort's sake. Contemporary bra design usually doesn't require this as the amount of stretch available can often lead to a lack of support, especially for larger busts, when the extra inches are added.

As you can see from the 85b calculator their use of this method led them to suggest a 34 band for me. Which would leave only 2" to be subtracted between my measurements, thus putting me in a B cup. 

Just, no.

Moving on to the bra size calculator found on (sounds promising, right?) we find that they have placed me in a UK 34F.  This one is actually the closest to my current bra size in that if I sister size down I reach it. However a 34 band is no where near tight enough to provide adequate support for my breasts.

Finally, we have the A Bra That Fits Calculator devised by the clever ladies who run the subreddit of the same name. This is usually the calculator that I would recommend for those who really refuse to have an instore bra fitting but this time it didn't quite work for me this time around. To be fair, it's only a cup size off the one I have now discovered to work best for me, but it's still got to be said that it didn't work out correctly.

So my little theory as to why my breasts do not obey the rules of typical methods is this: my loss of elasticity and density has led to breasts which sit lower on my body and slightly flatter against my chest. This results in a circumference measurement that's smaller than it "should" be, but once they're piled up high into a regular underwire bra the actual volume is still there so they would spill out of most of the sizes these calculators put me in.

Angry, uncomfortable and just generally fed up I was left with only one thing to do: get fitted in store. And I will detail this experience in my next blog post!

Thanks for reading. x

Thursday, 10 September 2015

What Katie Did L3015 Glamour Waspie

What Katie Did are a British lingerie brand who specialise in vintage styled designs. They are very true to the style and structure of by-gone eras, more so than any similar brands I have mentioned on my blog, and so are perfect for pin-ups and vintage clothing aficionados. An example of their commitment to the designs of the past is my L3015 Glamour Waspie which was inspired by a Victorian riding corset.

I have never got on particularly well with regular shapewear. Corsets: I love. They make me feel supported and like I’m being given a firm hug all day long. Shapewear on the other hand makes me feel like my midsection is being compressed in the worst way while all my fat is squeezed up and out. Not pleasant.

So when I spotted the glamour waspie in WKD’s summer sale I was intrigued. While incorporating traditional shapewear elements such as power mesh and a waist band, it also has spiral steel boning throughout. I loved the idea that these would help in keeping it’s shape because one of the most common problems I find with big spanx style knickers is that they roll over at the top (probably because I’m too small) creating a bulge of flesh where they meet my bra.

WKD’s designs are cut to vintage patterns which means they run quite small. Therefore it’s really important to consult their size chart before purchasing. I ended up confusing myself greatly while measuring myself as the numbers I was getting put me into a size 16 according to my waist measurement but only a 10 according to my hip measurement. Now, I’m used to the two measuring differently as my upper half is out of proportion to my lower half and I always have to size up for my waist when buying pants that come up higher than my hips. However this seemed a bit extreme. Thankfully at this point a chatbox popped up asking if I wanted to speak to a sales associate. They immediately got to the route of the problem by asking if I had measured my waist firmly 2” above my belly button. It turned out I had been measuring too low on my body and too loose. With that help, I decided to go for a size 12.

The 12 fits me perfectly, smoothing my stomach out and really emphasising my curves. I actually couldn’t believe the difference it made to my silhouette when I first put it on. The waist band really cinches me in around my waist and gives me a more defined hourglass shape. Because I’m only 5’3” it probably gives me a bit more coverage than it would the average woman and as you can see from some of the photos, a bit of back fat bulge is unavoidable. But I don’t notice this at all when I have clothes on so it’s obviously not too extreme. I also think the fuller length version would have been too long for me, but would work really well on someone with a longer torso.

On my first day of test driving the waspie I went out to an Italian restaurant with my in-laws and ate a three course carb heavy meal. It was super easy to slip to the bathroom after the main course and swap to the looser hooks to accommodate my expanding stomach and make room for dessert. The waspie was surprisingly comfortable and I happily wore it the whole day through, as it made me feel secure and smoothed out under my outfit.

I love that it comes with detachable suspender straps which allows me to wear it with a dress and stockings or with jeans and a top. I would have maybe preferred if there had been 6 suspender straps rather than the 4 as I like to wear nylon stockings which really need a good grip. However the suspender clips are super sturdy and actually keep most of my stockings in place throughout the day. I think the inclusion of suspender straps helps transform the waspie from boring shapewear into a beautiful inclusion to many of my lingerie outfits.

Other factors of the design that help with this are the satin panel which covers the front and contrasts with the black mesh of the rest of the waspie, as well as a row of tiny ruffles around the bottom edge. I really love this little detail which adds a feminine touch to what would otherwise have been a rather block-y piece of lingerie. I did notice a few loose threads dangling from the ruffles after a few wears but they were easy enough to snip off and there haven’t been any more since.

I am so happy with my purchase from WKD and am getting a lot of wear out of it because of its versatility as well as how comfortable it is. Unfortunately after taking the photos for this post I discovered it had actually been discontinued (my fault for thinking I could review something from a summer sale three months later…). However when I queried WKD on twitter they informed me that their L3018
Glamour Waist Cincher is the new and improved version. While I’m happy with the aesthetics of my own glamour waspie I will admit that the new design is indeed prettier! And if it is also similar or even better than my own then I would happily recommend them to anyone.

These designs are perfect if you’re like me and are too lazy for full time corset wearing but hate most modern shapewear. They also may be well suited if you’re postpartum and looking for something to encourage your stomach muscles to hold themselves back in again. I know that belly bands are very popular right now for new mama’s but I would imagine that structured designs like this with boning may actually be more comfortable than the more tubular designs. I myself considered waist training with a corset postpartum but then had to admit to myself that I was too lazy to commit to that.

So until I can work up the effort and funds to do that, I’ll stick to my glamour waspie. If anyone’s interested in this design rather than the newer ones, there are reduced listings of the longer versions in peach and black on Amazon. Otherwise it may require a bit of searching around online to locate one.

Thanks for reading. x

Bra by Peek & Beau, Pants by Made By Niki (the black is sold out but pink and yellow are available here), Stockings are Jonathan Aston, available here.