Last month I posted about how I suspected a few of my key fit issues weren’t because of bra style, but because of the uneven bra band tension I experience in some (okay, all) bras, in my post “It’s not the bra style, it’s your bra band tension!”.
Since I’ve had three bras altered, and tried on quite a few more styles while pinching in or testing fit with equalized bra band tension, I thought I should talk about what I’ve learned.
First, I finally have my explanation as to why I was sizing down in cup. I measure 36FF/G and I had been sizing down one cup, usually to F cups – while sizing up in band (more on band length later in another post). So, I’d been trying to wear 38F’s (UK sizing). In a smaller cup combined with a looser band, the cups can tilt forward and give the feel of increased cup size, especially when the top half of the bra band tension is looser than the bottom half. I learned when bra band tension was equalized (the top half of the band shortened) a cup increase was necessary for proper fit.
Second (and first), since I’m full-on-bottom and sometimes experience gaping in the tops of my cups, increasing bra band tension usually eliminates gaping (this is why you must buy your correct size or larger cups, if you plan on performing this alteration).
Third, when you alter too-small cups you create a problem. I’ve owned a 38F Panache Idina Plunge, and sized up to a 38FF because of slight quadding over time. The 38FF’s were altered, and now I quad in those as well. I need 38G’s, altered. When the band is shortened, the cups are pulled tighter across the top of the breast (or wherever you were experiencing gaping or excess fabric) as wires are pulled into their proper position at the wing….and voila! You fill out your cups better, and your cups “shrink”, for lack of a better term. So, my advice is to expect to outgrow your bras immediately if you are altering bras that you suspect you’ve sized down in. And the next time you buy a bra, check your altered fit (pinch the sides at the top) to see if you need to go up in cup to prevent quadding.
Fourth, since my breast tissue extends to my sides (wide base breasts), I’ve found some styles that were “almost there” can be converted into “great fits” when the bra band tension is equalized and increased. A prime example is the Love Claudette Dessous. In the images below, you can see my ideal wire shape (Panache Idina Plunge) compared to the Dessous. With proper tension (and a bit of reshaping) the Dessous wires are positioned so they lay below and behind, not on my breast tissue at the wings. If you are built like me (my sympathies), and above an F cup U.K., you immediately recognize the value of this tidbit since so few bras are made with low wing heights in cups above an F. Bra designers, are you listening?
Fifth, there is an order to which you should do alterations of wire shape, band length, and bra band tension. First, bend the wires to your desired position (this may or may not raise the gore, be prepared). I advise wearing a bra at least four times, and washing it a few times before altering the band tension. If you still need a shorter band after you successfully adjust the bra band tension, measure and alter the band for proper length.
I’m sure some of you are wondering how I feel about my altered bras. Well, my Idinas are wonderful except for the slight quadding caused by inadvertently sizing down prior to alterations. The alteration keeps the bra band in the proper position on my back and I am much happier with their fit. My Elomi Amelia 38FF…well, I should have sized down to a 36G, perhaps up to a GG before altering, because the raised gore and upper breast cut-in was exacerbated by the alterations. Elomi is a tricky fit for me at the gore, and the combination of altering the band length and equalizing bra band tension has made the Amelia slightly uncomfortable at the end of the day, but still wearable. I’ll definitely try the bra band tension alteration again in a 36G/GG Elomi Amelia or Fantasie Rebecca Nouveau. I am breaking in a Love Claudette Dessous 36G and will be taking it in next week for alterations to the band. I also have a Cleo Molly 38FF that will get a second life with an altered band (yay!).
Finally, at least one of you has asked how to perform this type of bra band tension alteration and lucky for all of us Bras I Hate & Love just put a post out about how to perform this exact alteration! You’ll notice in the tutorial, she darts the band evenly whereas my alterations are angled or V’d. This is because she wants to shorten the entire length of the band, not just the upper half of the band.
Have you altered your bra band tension? What was your result?