This is a post for all the female, female-identified, and female-presenting people out there, or for anybody else who has ever, for some reason, needed to buy and wear a bra.
If delving too deeply into Women’s Mysteries™ is not for you, read no further, and I’ll see you next post. But if you’re still with us, I’ll start by explaining a couple of things about bras that most bra-wearers already know.
The first thing is that bra sizes — for all shapes and sizes and configurations of bra-wearing people — are based on two measurements and two measurements only. One measurement is taken around the rib cage just under the breasts; that’s the 36, for example, in the classic 36DD bra. The second measurement, for the cup size, is derived from the circumference of the chest at nipple level on the bustline. (It’s not an absolute, because the D-cup in a 32D bra is not going to be the same size as the D-cup in a 42-D bra.)
That’s it. Those two measurements are the whole thing. Never mind the shape of the breasts in question (which will vary from one person to another for all sorts of reasons), or the placement of them (higher or lower; closer together or farther apart) on the rib cage, or the muscular development (or lack of it) of the wearer’s chest and shoulders. Two measurements.
Which leads us inexorably to the second thing that most bra-wearing people already know: You can’t just pick up a bra off the rack in your size and expect it to fit. You have to try it on, first. And it’s probably not going to work for you when you do — the cups will be the wrong shape for your breasts, or will be set too close together/too far apart, or they’ll fit just fine except for the internal seam that irritates you unspeakably; or the straps will slide off your shoulders, or cut into your shoulders, or somehow, in defiance of all common sense, manage to do both at once; or it will be your perfect bra in all respects, but will be the last one in the store and the manufacturer has discontinued the line.
So you can’t just try on a single bra when you go out bra-shopping. You have to try on a whole stack of them, and most, if not all, of them won’t fit.
It is, therefore, no wonder that shopping for bras is an experience calculated to make almost anyone feel — at best — like some kind of mutant alien.
Which brings me to the science-fictional part of this post.
We already have scanners and sensors that can map and image a body, either still or in motion — Hollywood uses them all the time. And we have 3-D printers that can spit out everything from houses to handguns. So how long will it be before some servant of bra-wearing humanity combines the two and comes up with a commercially-viable device that will scan you and then print out, in a comfortable material, a custom-made bra in your own personal size?
My guess? Quite a while, probably. Maybe not until we get enough bra-wearing people in STEM fields to make it likely that at least one of them will think that the problem is one worth tackling. And maybe even longer than that, because while handguns are easy (they were what the idea of interchangeable parts was originally developed for), bras — because people do not, in fact, have standardized measurements and interchangeable parts — are hard.
(Also, guns are a cool guy thing, and bras are girly. These things should not matter, but they do.)
Which brings me to a recommendation. If you’re a bra-wearing person on the east coast of the USA, check out Zoe&Company in New Hampshire or Rhode Island. They’re not just bra sellers; they’re bra fitters, and they’re damned good at it. Their store carries the full range of bra sizes, from AA all the way out to KK (yes, the range is that wide), and they’re trained to help you find bras that actually fit.
Also, they won’t make you feel like a mutant while they’re doing it.