This Is What It’s Like To Get Fitted For A Bra At Six Different Stores

Turns out wearing the right bra size is harder than it looks!

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Hi, I'm Kristin. Like many humans with boobs, I often struggle to find bras that can adequately support my girls.

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Boobs just don't know how to support themselves. GET A JOB, BOOBS!

Plus, it seems like you can't swing a tit without reading about how you're probably wearing the wrong bra size:

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Wow, we're really bad at knowing our bra sizes, aren't we? Sorry, everyone! Our bad!

So, in the name of achieving the ultimate in bra size accuracy, I set out to get fitted for a bra at not one, but SIX different stores. It was an epic bra crawl to determine once and for all* what my bra size is!

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*once and for all until I gain or lose weight, get my period, have a baby, or have any sort of significant hormonal changes!

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1. I would ask to have my bra size determined, and record the first size I was given.

2. I would try any bras that were suggested to me.

3. If, after helping me try on a suggested bra, a fitter decided I needed a different size, I would try it on and include their final assessment of my size. (This is only fair — all kidding aside, trying on bras really is a trial-and-error process.)

4. I would not offer any size suggestions. (I definitely broke this rule — see below.)

5. So as not to willfully waste the time of everyone helping me: If I found a bra I liked, I would purchase it at my expense.

And with that, I gathered all the pennies I had saved for this bra-buying occasion, and off I went!

I walked into Intimacy with some pretty high expectations.

Intimacy is a high-end bra boutique that was made famous by the Queen of Things You Must Buy, Oprah. It's the bra store equivalent of the cool older sister who knows more about things than you do. Boobs are their business, so I had no reason to believe that I would get anything less an an accurate fit.

The Fitting:

The fitter measures me with no tape, purely by sight, with a look at my current bra size. The fitter also asked me if anything has changed since I bought the bra I am currently wearing. Which it has: For starters, Obama is president now.

She then looks at my old sad potato sack of a bra (which was a Victoria's Secret 38DD) and notices, rightly, that it is too big in the cup, too loose in the back, and too loose in the straps, and from that, determines my size to be...

The fitter helps me try on the first 38D bra (from Empreinte) that she brings back, and determines that it fits:

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The fitter was here to supervise, to reduce the chance that I would screw anything up (which was smart). She tells me to fasten the band, and to bend over while adjusting my boobs in the cups. After I stand up, she adjusts the straps.

At the time, I wholeheartedly agree that this bra fits...though a small part of me is wondering if it isn't a little too tight. But as I am wrong about a shocking percentage of things, I ignore that feeling.

The second bra I try on is a 38D Prima Donna bra, and it fits about the same.

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This one is slightly tighter than the first one. I'm told that this brand of bra has more "kickback" than others.

The idea is that it will make the bra last longer. So, as a person who walked in while wearing a bra that is so old that I think it might have lapsed into the public domain, that's pretty much the best selling point someone can offer me.

The third 38D bra (from Marie Jo) also felt tight, and seemed OK from the front, but then I looked at it from the back...

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...and it looked like my body was physically rejecting it. So, this bra went into the "no" pile, along with another 38D bra that was actually so tight that I could not physically fasten it around my body.

I am very quickly learning that bras might be a lot like pants — just because two of them are the same size doesn't mean that they will fit the same.

I decide to buy bra number two (the black lace Prima Donna) and head on my way, blissfully unaware of what was about to happen next...

Confession: I have not been inside a Bloomingdale's in years.

Until this challenge, I legitimately thought the name of the store was "Bloomingdales" — no apostrophe. This is to say I have no expectations one way or the other — I don't even know if they have people here who can measure me.

The Fitting:

Luckily, a very nice lady is there to help me out. She fits me with measuring tape, from the front — I am measured under my dress but over my bra.

When she is finished, she announces that I measure at a 39, and determines my size:

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Just a reminder: I measured at a 38D at Intimacy, so this is, uh...a pretty big step up. The fitter goes to find some things in my size, and I prepare myself for some comically large clown-shoe-size bras.

Seriously. That is how convinced I am at this point in the bra crawl that my Intimacy bra size MUST be correct — surely a store that expensive (with a return policy that only allows for exchanges) is the ultimate authority, right?

But I try on the second bra, a 38F (38DDD) and it feels...not bad.

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The cup size here is waaaay too big, but the bra feels good. Like, taking-your-bra-off-at-the-end-of-the-day-good, except I'm getting this feeling from a bra and suddenly I am feeling very, very mad at myself for plunking down so much money at Intimacy.

I scroll back to all the pictures of the bras I took at Intimacy, and REALLY look at them. I suddenly have no idea why I didn't say anything about how tight they felt.

The fitter notes that her first two choices in size were a bit too big, and goes to get something in a smaller cup size:

The third bra I try on (a Simone Perele in a 38E) feels the most comfortable of all:

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This bra is the closest I have come to finding a bra that fits and does not feel like a tourniquet (including the bra I have already bought).

I know to quit when I am ahead, so I turn over some more of my dollars, and buy it.

Macy's was fairly low-key.

Macy's to me has always felt like the place where your mom goes to relax. In that regard, it did not disappoint: Of all the places I tried, Macy's was definitely the chillest. No one pressured me to try on anything, which I later found to be both a blessing and a curse.

The Fitting:

I walk up to the person working in the lingerie section and ask to be fitted. The fitter measures me with measuring tape, from the front, over my dress and bra.

She then tells me my size...

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The Macy's bra fitter then leaves me more or less to myself, so I decide to pick myself out some boob holders.

A problem I found with being left on my own, however, was that if a bra isn't fitting you correctly, you sort of have to guess the problem and diagnose it yourself. And since you have to deal with both cup size AND band size, it's hard to gauge whether the problem is the cup, the band, or just the bra in general.

The first bra I try on is a little small, especially up around the armpits.

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This bra itself is a Lilyette "infinity back smoothing minimizer," which isn't so much a description as it is just four words hanging together for dear life. I mean, did this bra do a pretty good job of back-smoothing? Sure. But did it do an infinity job of both back smoothing and minimizing? No one will ever know, because that is a meaningless metric that makes no sense.

Anyway, it was a little snug, only managed to do a C+ job keeping me from leaking out of the top of it, and was the itchiest thing I had ever put on my body up until that point, so it was a loser.

And then, of course, the second 40D bra I tried on was probably the best-fitting bra I had tried all day to this point:

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This was both exciting and annoying for three reasons:

1. The fit still didn't feel QUITE right (the longer I wore it, the more my boobs slid down in the cups), but

2. The fit was closer to being right than the other two bras I had already plunked down serious cash for — however,

3. The bra was even itchier than the last bra, so it's not like I could even buy it.

So now, I had to live with the fact that I have bought two bras that fit worse than this Macy's bra...which itself felt like I was being hugged by an anthill.

The third 40D bra felt tighter around the arms and saggier in the cups than the last 40D, because the world is crazy and nothing makes sense.

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At this point I decide to leave — the Macy's woman is busy with something else, and I think I've more or less exhausted the potential of 40D as a size.

I've now gotten three different sizes at three different stores. I'm thoroughly confused...and then I remember what the next store is on my list.

I put my game face on. I mentally prepare myself to enter... the thunderdome of bras.

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Real talk: Victoria's Secret is a little intimidating.

After a morning of fairly subdued lingerie stores, Victoria's Secret feels like the real-life equivalent of Wonka's chocolate factory. It's a beautiful bastion of decadent fantasy, and if you are not careful, you will get sucked into something candy-colored and deadly.

The Fitting:

I flag down someone near the dressing rooms and ask if I can be fitted for a bra. The (very nice and very busy) fitter agrees — she fits me with tape measure, from the front, over my clothes and bra.

She then tells me my size:

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This is where I accidentally broke one of my rules (about not giving any size suggestions), because I have the world's worst poker face. In my defense, I have now gotten four different bra sizes in as many stores, and I feel like I am no closer to figuring out my size than I was when I started.

To the fitter's credit, she figures out why I look so confused, and asks me if a 38C makes sense, and also what size I am currently wearing.

I tell her: it's a Victoria's Secret 38DD. She then revises her assessment to a 38D.

It occurs to me that this is the second time today someone has made a decision about my bra size based on the bra I'm currently wearing.

Which, just to remind you, definitely looks like the bra a Dickens novel might wear if it physically had boobs.

More important: If so many women are supposedly wearing the wrong size bra, why would ANYONE care about this number?

I am escorted into a fitting room that I would describe as looking like a sexy jail:

It even came with a little doorbell, in case I needed to cry out for help.

The first 38D bra I am given is a push-up bra, and it nearly pushes my boobs right out of them.

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If my body suddenly looks significantly different from the other photos, it's because the lighting scheme of this dressing room was definitely "the searchlight we use to find escaped prisoners."

Do I have cleavage? Sure — it's because when I lean back, my boobs look like little waves of pudding trying to burst through a damn. This goes in the "no" pile.

The second 38D wasn't a push-up bra, but definitely felt like a push-in bra.

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"This looks good!" the fitter says about this bra. I am very confused, because from the side, I look OK, but from the front I look like I'm being squeezed in half. Maybe she is trying to be nice?

Anyway, this is not my first boob rodeo, so I am not falling for this again.

The third 38D bra, which is also a push-up bra, also feels too tight. It's almost like it's the wrong size, or something!

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I mention to the fitter that all these bras just feel too tight — she tells me that they will "stretch out." Which is probably true, but I'd want the bra to fit because it's the proper size, not because I slowly broke its spirit.

If it looks like I have tried on the same bra about three times in a row, that is because I more or less have. Despite being decorated differently, every bra feels the same. It's like bra Groundhog Day in here.

I have now about had it with the pink room of pain.

The volume of this wallpaper is set to 11.

And at this point in the bra crawl, I am feeling a lot like this:

I am beginning to think that I am not going to figure out what my bra size is today, which I would have taken as an impossibility this morning. Like I am playing a series of really funny practical jokes on myself.

The Fitting:

In a departure from everyone else, the fitter measures me over my clothes and bra, but does so from the back, as opposed to the front. She informs me of my size...

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The fitter thinks it could be either size, and that I will need to try them out to know for sure, which: sure. I submit myself to trial by fire.

The first bra I am given to try is a Wacoal 40DD bra, and dear god it feels just like what we all felt when we found out Friends was coming to Netflix.

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I can tell you: The difference between a bra that mostly fits, and a bra that REALLY fits is astronomical, because this bra feels like an extension of myself.

"This is your bra size," an imaginary choir of angels sings to me. "At least for this particular brand, with soft cups, this is it. You're not crazy." I honestly don't even bother trying on the 42DD — I have clearly found my match.

The second Wacoal 40DD bra is even better.

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"Where have you been all my life?" I ask this bra, repeatedly. "And more specifically, where have you been all day?! Do you know how many miles I have put on my car looking for you?"

But the third is a Chantelle 40DD bra, and holy crap it felt so good on, I nearly wore it home.

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I'm no boob scientist, but I think I can definitely say that the fitter at Nordstrom totally crushed it. I bought the shit out of this bra, but not before saying a very tearful goodbye to the second bra, who will always live on in my heart, and who I will see again, upon my saving up some more money.

Although emotionally I felt as though I had completed my mission, I still had one stop left:

I couldn't not visit Lane Bryant — they made such a big stink of throwing shade at Victoria's Secret a few weeks back with the #ImNoAngel campaign, I wanted to see if they could put their money where their mouths were, in terms of lingerie dominance.

The Fitting:

The fitter asks me what size I am wearing, and then oddly, asks me to lift my bra and boobs by my bra straps, while she measures me with tape from the front.

This voodoo doesn't seem to make a difference, because this is the size she comes back to me with:

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Look, I don't know much about this life, but I think by this point I can definitely say that my band size is not a 38. But I accept some 38DDs to try on from the fitter, because the world is full of mysteries and someone once made a Crocodile Hunter movie, so anything is possible.

The first 38DD is a push-up bra, and also just a nightmare bra.

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I look like the Stay Puft Man in a bra. I'm terrified, but through my horror, I'm also intrigued — why does this thing being sold to me at a plus-size store fit me so much worse than a bra in a smaller size at Victoria's Secret?

Upon closer inspection, I discover that the "push-up" mechanism of this bra is literally some air bags.

Presumably this is a safety feature?

The second 38DD is not a push-up bra, but that does not mean it wants to squeeze the life out of me any less than before, even while it's too loose up top.

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OK — I think I have given 38DDs a fair shake. They are not the size for me. But a part of me is curious: Given how inconsistently these bras have fit me today, would my newly christened perfect size 40DD translate to the Lane Bryant bras at well?

Turns out no. The 40DD push-up bra is also the worst.

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In the case of this bra, is "40DD" supposed to be just the sum of your boobs after you add your natural tits together with the push-up material? HOW WOULD A NORMAL PERSON KNOW THAT?

The fitter also gave me a 42DD push-up bra to try on, which was gigantic in the cups.

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This one came the closest of all the Lane Bryant bras — but again, the cups gapped so much at the top, it wasn't worth the superior fit of the band. I leave empty-handed.

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1. You should be fitted for a bra every time you buy a new one. Just because you've recently had a bra that fit you in one size doesn't mean that they're all going to fit well.

2. Be honest with the person fitting you. They are human people like you who do not have the ability to read your mind, and they can't help you unless you tell them your concerns — and if they totally ignore your concerns, then it's time to go somewhere else.

3. Never buy anything you don't love. At the end of the day, it's my fault for buying a bra that I didn't feel comfortable in, because I let myself be convinced that my instincts were wrong. Nobody threatened to strangle me with a bra strap if I didn't hand over my credit card.

4. A good fit is what feels good to you. Do you feel comfortable? Supported? Can you put your bra on without having to adjust it 85 times a day like a crazy person? Does it make you feel your best in clothes? Then you're wearing the right bra size, and everyone else can shut their mouths. Case closed.